Hacking Your Life with Psychology

Happiness Hacks:

  1. Smile (even if it’s fake) to trick your brain into happiness

According to Dr. Murray Grossan, an ENT-otolaryngologist, smiling not only creates a powerful chemical response in the brain to not only lift your mood and lower stress but also boost your immune system. 

  1. Turn off your phone

A study from Kent State University has shown that high screen time was linked to lower grades, higher anxiety, and overall reduced happiness. A likely explanation is that social media removes us from the present, causing a sense of emptiness. Try to reduce your screentime and actively engage with the present more, whether that is talking to people face to face during meals or trading 10 minutes of screentime for 10 minutes to care for yourself with mindfulness practice. 

  1. Get some sunlight

According to Shawn Anchor- the author of “The Happiness Advantage” and lecturer at Harvard University and Wharton Business School- getting as little as 20 minutes outside in good weather “not only boosts positive mood, but also broadens thinking and improves the working memory.” You don’t have to drive to a nearby park. Even something as simple as sitting outside of the front door of your house for 20 minutes or opening the windows and blinds to allow some fresh air and sunlight to enter can be greatly beneficial. 

  1. Physical movement (especially fun workouts) quite literally improves mood

According to “The Happiness Advantage”, exercise is even more effective than meditation in reducing depressive symptoms. I’m not a huge fan of exercising myself and often find it difficult to find the motivation to do so, but I encourage you to just try it one time, starting slowly and taking it easy. Don’t know where to start? Check out these youtube workouts (#5) in this article ranging from Yoga to high-intensity Chloe Ting workouts, to groovy Fitness marshall dance workouts.

  1. Helping others simultaneously helps yourself

Helping others, whether through volunteering, donating, or even small actions such as offering to wash the dishes, is a very respectable thing to do. A study in Switzerland has proven that “volunteering is rewarding in terms of higher life satisfaction.” It’s a win-win situation!

Interacting with Others:

  1. Nod, both when you’re speaking and when others are speaking to build trust

This one needs to be used with caution and so be sure to use this in a responsible and ethical way. Nodding while others are speaking communicates genuine interest, and people are often drawn towards those who are interested in them. On the other hand, nodding while you’re speaking, subconsciously encourages the person to mimic your body language of nodding, and subsequently causes them to agree more with what your saying. 

  1. Body language: assess the feet

If someone’s feet are pointed towards you, they are genuinely interested and inviting. 

If someone’s feet are pointed away from you, they are likely not engaged.

When approaching a group, if people’s feet point toward you, they are most likely interested and welcoming. 

These are not concrete rules, however, so use it to guide your approach towards others, but not dictate it. 

  1. Do something exciting- Extreme emotions bond people closer together!

Microshocks are one of the most effective ways to build an emotional connection with someone. (via: @maxklynmenko on tiktok) This is why watching horror movies, going on rollercoasters, or doing any other (safe!) activity that causes an adrenaline rush is one of the best ways to improve relationships with people. By doing so, you share a shocking, but not too shocking, experience with someone. 

Random Bonus Hacks

  1. Chewing Gum can help calm nerves

When we eat, our brain is tricked into thinking we’re comfortable, because the logic follows that if we’re eating, we’re not in a startling situation. Next time you have a stressful event coming up, perhaps try chewing some gum to calm some nerves. Also, take some deep breaths- you got this.  

  1. Have a song stuck in your head? Skip to the end of it and finish it. 

If the chorus of a song has repeated itself in your head far too many times and you just can’t seem to get it out of your head, skip to the end of the song to (finally) finish it. From first-hand experience, this definitely works!

Works Cited

Anderson, Ryan. “16 Research-Based Hacks for Your Social Life.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 18 Apr. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mating-game/201604/16-research-based-hacks-your-social-life.

Iliopoulos, Adrian. “25 Psychological Life Hacks That Will Help You Gain the Advantage in Social Situations.” HighExistence, 3 Feb. 2020, highexistence.com/25-psychological-life-hacks-help-gain-advantage-social-situations/.

Lim, Teddy. “Happiness Hack: 10 Ways To Be Happier, Backed By Science.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 6 Oct. 2014, www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/happiness-hack-10-ways-happier-backed-science.html.

Spector, Nicole. “Smiling Can Trick Your Brain into Happiness – and Boost Your Health.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 10 Jan. 2018, www.nbcnews.com/better/health/smiling-can-trick-your-brain-happiness-boost-your-health-ncna822591.

Stillman, Jessica. “15 Psychological Hacks That Will Give You a Leg Up in Life.” Inc.com, Inc., 26 July 2017, www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/15-psychological-hacks-that-will-help-you-win-at-l.html. 

6 thoughts on “Hacking Your Life with Psychology”

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