10 quick ways to improve your life, distilled from tons of research:
Richard Wiseman's excellent book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute ends with a top ten list of quick, research-based advice. Here are some highlights:
Develop the Gratitude Attitude.
"Having people list three things that they are grateful for in life or three events that have gone especially well over the past week can significantly increase their level of happiness for about a month."
Be a Giver.
"People become much happier after even the smallest acts of kindness."
Hang a Mirror in Your Kitchen.
"Placing a mirror in front of people when they are presented with different food options results in a remarkable 32 percent reduction in their consumption of unhealthy food."
Buy a Potted Plant for the Office.
"Adding plants to an office results in a 15 percent boost in the number of creative ideas reported by male employees and helps their female counterparts to produce more original solutions to problems."
Touch People Lightly on The Upper Arm.
"Lightly touching someone on their upper arm makes them far more likely to agree to a request because the touch is unconsciously perceived as a sign of high status. In one dating study, the touch produced a 20 percent increase in the number of people who accepted an invitation to dance in a nightclub and a 10 percent increase in those who would give their telephone number to a stranger on the street."
Write About Your Relationship.
"Partners who spend a few moments each week committing their deepest thoughts and feelings about their relationship to paper boost the chances that they will stick together by more than 20 percent."
Deal with Potential Liars by Closing Your Eyes and Asking for an E-mail.
"The most reliable cues to lying are in the words that people use, with liars tending to lack detail, use more "ums" and "ahs," and avoid self-references ("me," "mine," "I"). In addition, people are about 20 percent less likely to lie in an e-mail than in a telephone call, because their words are on record and so are more likely to come back and haunt them."
Praise Children's Effort over Their Ability.
"Praising a child's effort rather than their ability ("Well done. You must have tried very hard") encourages them to try regardless of the consequences, therefore sidestepping fear of failure."
Visualize Yourself Doing, Not Achieving.
"People who visualize themselves taking the practical steps needed to achieve their goals are far more likely to succeed than those who simply fantasize about their dreams becoming a reality."
Consider Your Legacy.
"Asking people to spend just a minute imagining a close friend standing up at their funeral and reflecting on their personal and professional legacy helps them to identify their long-term goals and assess the degree to which they are progressing toward making those goals a reality."