The Surprising Connection Between Your Body and Your Happiness

For many years, I’d self-identified as someone who didn’t exercise and was even proud of this fact. Exercise, I had thought, was for type A superhuman marathon runners… but not me. Unfortunately, this view caused me to overlook a great source of happiness. Exercise has direct effects on your personal happiness, as well as taking care of your body through good food and good sleep. And literally everyone can do it.


Research shows that exercise has a large impact on happiness. Researchers posit that it might be tied to the boost of endorphins (feel good hormones) and lowering of cortisol (stress hormones). But it may also be related to accomplishing your exercise goals and having social contact. No wonder then, that in a Cochrane study, they found that exercise has a large clinical impact on depression, equivalent to psychotherapy in some cases.

Not only that but exercise also aides in neurogenesis – the creation of new brain cells. So if you care about your brain – take care of your body!

Ideally, you want to be getting 20-30 minutes of anaerobic exercises in. If that sounds daunting, try to start out with something small – like 10 minutes of exercise a day. Then continue to add 2 minutes a day each week. Not only will this prevent overexertion, but the lack of friction can create lasting habits. That’s how I started – and though my friends may have laughed at me, I now work into a sweat 30 minutes every other day. I also try to remove friction by actually having an exercise bike in the room next to my bedroom. That said, avoid overexercising. You might feel hardcore, but it can actually decrease feelings of happiness by reintroducing cortisol.


There are many good foods that you can eat. Certain nutrients like folate, omega-3, and vitamin D have been shown to increase feelings of happiness. On the flipside – research actually found that certain fatty acids can cause depressed feelings. Finally, a British study showed that the happiest people actually eat 6-7 servings of vegetables & fruits a day. So, if you can somehow incorporate more vegetables and fruits in your day – you will be likely to impact your mood. Blend it, carry snacks in your purse, and put them on your desk first thing. And don’t feel guilty about ordering a salad.


Sleep is something I treasure, a good on its own. Turns out though this beautiful thing actually increases your happiness. The more sleep, the better! Quality of sleep has an impact as does quantity of sleep. Try to sleep in silence, with no disruptions, with little to no light. And get those 8 hours. Poor or inadequate sleep is associated with trouble in school and work, depressive symptoms, and can even harm relationships. And sleep deprivation has actually been shown to impact your senses as much as alcohol-induced drunkenness. This leads to less productivity.

Finally a lack of sleep can disrupt good habits – it can prevent you from exercising, eating well, and general self-care. So get your sleep – your happiness depends on it!

For more tips, please check out Uplifter, an app designed to help you build gratitude and resilience through daily journaling exercises. Signup for early access at

5 Ways to Decrease Loneliness and Increase Happiness

Happiness is only real when shared’ – Christopher McCandless

How many times have you heard or said, ‘X and I have been meaning to meet, but we’re both so busy.’ We live in what seems to be an increasingly individualistic and distracted society, and it is impacting our social ties. Research found that we are trending towards having fewer close friends and fewer people to rely on. The average number of close friends we have went from 3 to 2 in the past 30 years. The amount of people we can rely on for social support (i.e. those we can ask for personal or financial help) is also decreasing. This has an adverse effect on our health and happiness. Our social ties can predict mortality, cardiovascular disease, progress of cancer, and cognitive function. One doctor called loneliness ‘the new tobacco’, because of its negative effects on our health.

The effects on happiness are similarly clear-cut. Days in which you interact with people both close and not close were shown to be better than days by yourself. Introverts might be shocked by these details, but the effects were shown across both extroverts and introverts. The amount of close friends you had also increased happiness and it doesn’t seem to top off: Having 3 is better than 2, 10 is better than 9. 

Ways to Get Closer

Meet in Person One big question has been how social media has impacted our social lives. Research found that generally, online connection is better than being alone, but does not compare to physical presence, which trumps them all in terms of increasing happiness. There’s something to be said about real life experiences and memories that cannot be mimicked through an online chat. So get out there and have real life experiences with friends.

Get Mindful What happens when you actually meet in person? Research has found that the presence of a phone on the table can decrease the depth of the conversation. Maybe it’s the fear of potential distractions, but people are sharing less and less about themselves and defaulting to easier and shallower conversations. Take the phone off the table, and really try to get to know the person on the other side. 

Cultivate resilience Note: If you are in an abusive and deceitful relationship – please remove yourself from the situation. That being said, one large driver of loneliness is self-protection. Indeed, close friends can be a source of criticism, jealousies, disappointment and other negative feelings. After experiencing such negative feelings, people often vow to never let that happen again. But they are also ensuring that they do not get to enjoy the most beautiful parts of human relations. Fundamentally, we can all become stronger in the face of pain as long as we are gentle towards ourselves. Pain is a part of life, but if we consciously take lessons and grow, we can create many great memories with others that will last us a lifetime.

Love yourself On a similar note, it’s true that in order to love other people, we must love ourselves. If we are full of self-criticism, we are bound to be critical of others. Learning to listen, forgive, and treat ourselves well is crucial. Next time, if you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself, replace it with compassion for your flaws and try encouragement instead. Ultimately it requires readjustment, education, and effort, but you are the one who chooses how you treat yourself. 

Gratitude Society has become more individualistic and people have idealized self-sufficiency to the point that people are afraid to lean on others. And indeed, sometimes being tied to a group’s opinion can hamper self-actualization and, asking for and receiving help may make one feel helpless and even needy. That being said, we may have taken this individualistic approach too far. All people are a product of their surroundings, we have been lucky in a lot of cases, and we have received help to get to where we are. Take time to recognize that you are part of a group and that you have been fully formed not despite other people, but in part because of other people. One way to increase your happiness is to take some time out to write a gratitude letter to someone whom you’ve not yet expressed the depth of gratitude you have. Writing and delivering this has been shown to create powerful increases in happiness that last for weeks.

Building friendships and intimacy is a skill. And as with all skills, its something that we can learn through effort, education, and small risks. If you feel you need some support, there are professionals and life coaches that are there to help you navigate through the trickier areas.

In the meantime, you can check out Uplifter, an app designed to help you build gratitude and resilience through daily journaling exercises. Signup for early access at

Take the Happiness Strength Inventory – What are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

All humans want to be happier. And research is demonstrating that you can increase your happiness by making improvements in your social ties, body, spirit, and mind. But it’s also true we each have our own natural inclinations - you may strongly gravitate to one area over others. Maybe you love running regularly, while you spend less time on personal relationships or vice versa. Knowing the areas in which you are strongest and weakest can help you gain self-awareness, celebrate your strengths and really hone in on areas for improvements. 

So take a short Happiness Strength Inventory: for each of the following areas, rate how satisfied you are on a scale of 1-10. It need not be a precise calculation, but try to answer by really paying attention to what your gut is telling you.

Social Ties – This relates to friendships and connecting with a greater community. This includes things like:

  • Personal relationships where you can discuss personal matters
  • Personal relationships you can rely on during trying times
  • Belonging to a group or larger community

Body – This refers to all things that create and maintain a healthy body. This includes things like:

  • Regular exercise and sports
  • Eating right
  • Sleeping well
  • Minimizing habits that may damage your body (i.e. cigarettes and alcohol)

Spirit – This really refers to having meaning and purpose in your life. This includes things like:

  • Feeling like you connect with something greater than yourself
  • Feeling that you are on this earth for a special purpose and living it out
  • Finding meaning in small moments

Mind – This relates to what’s going on inside your mind. This includes things like:

  • Encouraging yourself and others
  • Seeing the positive of a situation
  • Self-soothing amidst trying times 

Now look at your results – Where are you strongest and where are you weakest? The great thing is that we can improve in any of these areas through a little education and effort.

For your weakest area, then, take a moment to think about what might be holding you back, and then write down something you could do to take action. It doesn’t have to be big – in fact, it should be something small and attainable. Small wins are great beginnings.

For your strongest area, take a moment to reflect and celebrate. This is a gift and you may be able to even help others in this area.

I will elaborate more on tips and techniques to help you improve in each of these areas in my next post. In the meantime, you can signup for early access to Uplifter, a mobile app that provides daily positive journaling exercises to help lift your mood at