We find happiness in different situations. Some prefer playing with puppies, while others feel happier partying with friends. Now a new study has found one way for all of us to feel happier, no matter how we find it.
Researchers recently discovered a strong link between our level of happiness and how much variety we enjoy in our lives. The study found that by changing our daily routine to include new experiences, participants felt happier overall.
To conduct the study, researchers used GPS tracking on the participants for 3 to 4 months. The participants communicated with researchers via text messaging about their emotions.
Participants who varied their locations more frequently described positive feelings, such as “happy,” “relaxed,” and “excited.” Moreover, and this is the exciting part: when researchers later conducted MRI scans, the participants who connected happiness to variety had stronger links between brain activity in the striatum and hippocampus.
The striatum plays a role in discovering what parts of our environment give us a sense of reward. The hippocampus responds to variety in location and memory.
The study results showed that participants who felt happier by varying their routines learned to see variety as rewarding. That reward, in turn, motivated them to explore more ways to enjoy new experiences—so this system of feeling rewarded builds on itself exponentially.
Researchers say that variety doesn’t have to, and probably shouldn't consist of major changes. Small, yet meaningful ways to spice up our lives regardless of our circumstances are bound to make us happier in the long run through frequency. Some ideas might include:
Many of us are familiar with the saying, “variety is the spice of life.” But variety may also provide us with more than spice, it can make us happy. By seeking small yet meaningful ways to vary our daily routine, from walking a different route, to volunteering, to learning a new skill, we 're actually practicing self-care, and being rewarded for it.
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