Previously, scientists argued that what determines happiness is beyond a person's control: for example, genetics, health, or upbringing.
In a recent study, scientists from the University of California, Riverside, found that a person's happiness is partly genetically determined and also affected by factors beyond one's control...but they also concluded that we have the power to contribute to our own sense of happiness, by doing five simple things:
Write letters of gratitude to people who have helped you in your life. You don't even need to send the letters (but they might appreciate receiving them)!
Visualize an ideal future or something you would like to happen, and express it in writing.
Count your blessings
Every week, write down three good things that happen to you. Focusing on the positive helps you remember reasons to be happy.
Use your strengths
Look for ways to use your strengths in new ways. Feeling overcommitted? Choose which activities you most enjoy and most play to your strengths, and focus most of your time on those.
Commit acts of kindness
Help others to help yourself. Donate time or money to charity, or altruistically assist people in need.
The study showed that all five of these techniques helped participants to increase their feelings of well-being and their levels of happiness.