Key to Happiness: small repeated boosts on well-being?

the dancer

Practice yoga, be happy?

Some time ago I stumbled upon an interesting research paper about increasing your happiness and well-being.

Many studies have come to the conclusion that big life events like winning the lottery or getting married have no lasting effect on your level of happiness. One, perhaps two years at max after a significant life event and you’re back to your baseline. Fortunately, that holds true for negative life events too. The reason for this is that we adapt to our circumstances in the long run.

So, if big life events don’t boost your level of happiness and well being permanently, what does?

Because attending religious events and exercising have been linked to higher levels of well-being in many studies,  the researchers mused that perhaps it’s small repeated activities instead of big one-shot life events that increase your level of well-being.

The researchers set to studying people arriving to and leaving places of worship, and also gym goers and people who practiced yoga.

The results? After attending religious service, exercising or practicing yoga, people where happier when they left than when they arrived. Also, the more frequently people participated in these activities, the happier they reported being. This may also interest you – yogis reported being (slightly) happier than gym goers.

So, the key to lasting happiness may well be frequently participating in small activities that reliably boost your level of well-being. I imagine many activities can give a similar boost to your level of happiness  – dancing and singing in the choir come to my mind.

I also think many people try to boost their happiness by shopping, but it has too many downsides for it to really work, except if you’re a billionaire? 🙂

Question: What other activities could give a boost like that?


  1. Aimee says:

    Seeing my son’s face makes me happy and spending time with him can make anything better. Running also gives me a boost especially a great run on a beautiful day.

    • Satu says:

      Hi Aimee! I agree on the effect of exercise – my morning strength workouts have a big effect on my day especially when I exercise in the morning.

      Children are also a source of happiness and you can get daily boosts? 🙂 I envy my little nieces energy and their fresh perspective on life more than anything..

  2. Marion says:

    Hi Satu! I generally get happy from little simple things, such as just petting Keebler. Once I read, “Look for happiness with a little ‘h.'” I also enjoy my exercise very much. 😀

    🙂 Marion

  3. I think happiness does come from the little things. Perhaps contentment is a bigger concept, but lots of little things keep us going along from moment to moment. For me it can be having a nice compliment on my blog or Facebook, something funny on television, nice food or wine, reading a book, a nice bath etc.


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