When asked, just three in 10 Brits answered “yes” to that question.
The 2015 UK Optimism Audit painted a rather bleak picture of our collective happiness levels: only one-quarter of us feel that our career is on the right track, just 7% of us are very happy with the way we look, and two-fifths of us feel that our current relationship is either declining or has no future.
However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. 70% of us think that changing one small thing in our lives could make a big difference to our happiness levels. The problem is though, we have no idea where to start.
Well, we’re here to help, because small changes really can make a difference. Try the suggestions below – they could have a huge impact on your sense of well-being.
1. Eat a healthy breakfast
According to one survey, two-thirds of Brits regularly skip breakfast. If you’re a member of the No-Breakfast Club, you may be doing yourself a big disservice: research suggests that starting your day with a nutritious meal delivers huge benefits for your mental and physical health.
Food, after all, is fuel. Energising your brain and body with breakfast leads to higher levels of concentration and productivity, and puts you in a better mood.
And if you’re skipping breakfast because you are calorie counting, you may be self-sabotaging: studies have suggested that people who eat breakfast lose more weight than those going hungry each morning.
Most people know that exercise is good for them, yet 80% of us still don’t meet government-recommended levels of activity. You don’t have to take on the training regime of an Olympian. Just taking a daily walk could provide substantial benefits: higher self-esteem, improved brainpower, greater energy levels… the list goes on.
3. Perform a random act of kindness
How often do you do something nice for someone else? Even the hard-hearted amongst us should aim to perform one random act of kindness each day. Research shows that these acts of love benefit the giver as much as the receiver.
Kindness doesn’t just make us feel good about ourselves. It also reduces feelings of pain, stress, anxiety, depression… and even blood pressure! The more we do for others, it seems, the happier we are ourselves.
It’s hardly surprising that we’ve become joined at the hip with our smartphone: being able to access emails, maps and cute cat videos wherever we happen to be can be hugely helpful for our productivity and well-being.
But the constant presence of our phones can also be a negative. In one study, almost three-quarters of adults said frequent phone notifications cause them stress, and 81% admitted interrupting important and pleasurable activities to check their messages. Phones also damage our productivity at work by constantly demanding our attention and breaking our concentration.
The next time you have a load of work to get through or are at an event you want to enjoy with friends and family, try turning your phone off and stashing it away.
Another good time to get some separation from Siri is in the evening, particularly in the last 90 minutes before you go to bed. This is because the blue light found in phone screens disrupts the parts of our brain that are needed for sleep, resulting in difficulty dropping off and lower levels of alertness the next morning.
There are many benefits to giving meditation a try. Regularly meditating can boost both your self-esteem and your self-control. It can also improve your memory, help you multitask and make you more creative.
People who meditate also report higher levels of emotional intelligence, compassion and positivity, as well as feeling less lonely, stressed, depressed and anxious. In fact, one study found that mediation was more effective than morphine for removing emotional and physical pain.