Four signs you’re happier than you think

10/28/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:19 AM

Your emotional health isn’t just about your genes or the kind of home you were raised in. It turns out that some pretty interesting factors play a role in how joyful you feel. Scan this list to see whether your lifestyle is making you content.

1. You smiled in your school pictures.

Adults who had the biggest grins in their college yearbook pictures were up to five times less likely to be divorced decades later than those who looked less happy, according to a new DePauw University study. A smiler’s positive disposition may attract other happy people or rub off on a spouse.

2. You have a sister.

People with at least one female sibling reported better social support, more optimism and better coping abilities, according to a study presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference. Sisters appear to encourage communication and cohesion in families.

3. You make exercise a priority.

People who work out more are less likely to be stressed and more likely to be satisfied with life, according to Danish researchers. Compared with sedentary people, joggers were 70 percent less likely to have high stress levels and life dissatisfaction, the study found. Couch potatoes who started moderate exercise – the equivalent of 17 to 34 minutes a day – experience the greatest happiness lift.

4. You stay warm with hot chocolate.

Clutching a steaming beverage – coffee and tea also do the trick – can elicit a flood of positive feelings, according to a Yale University study. This may be because people associate physical warmth with emotional warmth, say the researchers. Study subjects held cups of either hot or iced coffee; those gripping warm mugs were more appreciative of friendliness in others and also felt more generous and trusting themselves.

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