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Can we really make ourselves happier?

The desire to be happy is one of the oldest and deepest human yearnings. But is it really possible to boost personal feelings of happiness? Here are ten tips on bringing more contentment into everyday life.

  • Smile: Keep smiling! Scientific studies show that even the smallest smile can reduce stress and release "happiness hormones" (endorphins).

  • Be grateful: Often it is the apparently insignificant moments that make life worth living. Appreciating the small things – like a compliment or a friendly gesture – has a direct positive effect on contentment and personal wellbeing.

  • The greatest pleasure is a pleasure anticipated: Simply looking forward to an event gives us a pleasurable feeling. So, look forward to a party, a holiday, or a relaxed evening with friends.

  • Enjoy nature: Make sure that you play sport or regularly take some kind of exercise outdoors. Regular exercise not only leads to the release of endorphins, but also helps us to leave our cares behind and focus on other things. Just a short walk in the park can calm frayed nerves and lift our mood.

  • Spend time with others: Get together with your friends and family. In these times of social media and increasing digitalisation it's more important than ever to have real physical social contact with others.

  • Eat with others: It's a fact that eating with other people is a lot more fun than eating by yourself. Make sure to eat with friends from time to time.

  • Make time for yourself: Deliberately plan some free time for yourself. Take your needs, anxieties and pleasures seriously. This will not only make you happier, it will also boost your self-esteem and self-confidence.

  • Rest and relax: Try to get at least seven hours' sleep a night. If you don't get enough sleep, you are much more likely to be irritable or bad-tempered.

  • Keep a to-do list: Keep a to-do list and cross off the tasks as you complete them. At the end of the day this will give you the feeling that you've done something to be proud of.

  • Ask for help: Sometimes a word of advice or encouragement from someone you trust can help if you're feeling low. If you start to find that nothing gives you pleasure any more, it may well be time to seek professional help.