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5 rules happy people follow

Ah, happiness… harder to find than a bikini that fits. Try our clever tips for size

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    1. Be grateful

    There’s a saying: if you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness. One US study found that people who wrote down a daily gratitude list were more optimistic and even made fewer visits to the doctor than those who listed what aggravated them. Had the week from hell and are feeling far from thankful? The very act of searching for something to feel grateful for increases emotional intelligence – and the more of that you have, the better you are at feeling grateful.

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    2. Make exercise part of your 9-5

    If the only moving you do at work is from your chair to the kettle, take heed: researchers from the University of Bristol found desk-based workers who exercised during the day were in a significantly better mood, and were more productive, calmer and better at concentrating and problem solving than those who didn’t. With all those benefits, it’s worth at least a brisk 20-minute lunchtime walk every day, no? Try a Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity & Sleep Tracker Wristband, £79.99/7,999 points, to keep you motivated, and set it up to compete with colleagues as an extra incentive.

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    3. Be kind

    It sounds trite, but there’s hard evidence that helping others really does push our happy buttons. In fact, a study by the University of Oregon in the US showed that charitable giving actually makes the ‘feel good’ parts of our brains light up. Researchers believe that it’s almost literal evidence of a warm glow! But why wait until you’re down in the dumps to take action? Do something nice for someone every day for a feel-good burst.

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    4. Wake up and smell the… lawn

    If you’ve ever wondered why just a teeny whiff of freshly mown grass makes you feel so… blissful, science has an explanation. When grass and green leaves are cut, at least five chemicals with stress-relieving properties are released, which work on the emotional and memory parts of the brain (known as the amygdala and the hippocampus). Great, but what’s a city dweller with a postage-stamp garden to do? Spritz The Library Of Fragrance Grass, £15/1,500 points (30ml, edt), around your living room instead. No mower necessary.

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    5. Enjoy the everyday

    You find happiness in the simple things in life as you get older. Fact. Where once it might have taken something extraordinary – like travelling the world – to make you happier, as you move up in years you start to savour more everyday events. Ah, so that’s why we love Saturday nights in front of the TV…

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Words Danielle Hine Photography Getty Images 
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