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Just think happy thoughts. It turns out, you never have to be miserable again.

University of California at Berkeley researchers scientifically proved that anyone is able to get through the toughest of times. UC Berkeley scientists tested quantifiable data on the holiday blues, although the results apply to any time of the year.

The study found three main things make people happy:

1. Feeling grateful
2. Spending time with family and friends
3. Helping others

Happiness is a learned skill. The secret to being happy is to concentrate on the things in your life that work well and feel thankful for them. This is as simple as being grateful for the hot cup of coffee you are drinking. Our brains either notice the things we appreciate or the things that annoy us. It is a conscious choice to be happy.

A connection to other people is also important, including friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. The university found most people are less connected and have fewer friends than 20 years ago. Feeling connected to people, rather than consumption and materialism, has a great influence on overall happiness.

Helping others also stimulates the feelings of happiness. Researchers looked at the vagus nerve, which extends from the brain to the abdomen, and determined its role of simulating happiness after acts of compassion. It truly is better to give than to receive.

Letting oneself enjoy life takes concentration and hard work, but it is worth it. All it takes is practice, according to a sociologist at the University’s Greater Good Science Center.

Therefore, put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart as you navigate each new day.

Best Wishes to All for a Happy New Year!

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