Doing these simple things will make you happier than buying stuff this Monday

More than 165 million Americans plan to shop over the holiday weekend from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. But have you considered . . . doing something else? Research suggests that your experiences—like hiking or having a meal with friends—are ultimately more satisfying than possessions. With that in mind, here are four things you can do instead of spending and buying things this Monday.

Just go to a park: One incredibly simple way to feel happier, multiple studies suggest, is to spend time in nature. In one study, people who went for a walk in a natural area felt more positive emotions and less anxiety than people who walked in an urban area; if you can’t make it to the wilderness, another study showed that spending time in a green urban area also helped.

Go meet a friend: Being social is a reliable way to make yourself happier. A decades-long Harvard study that has followed people throughout their lives also says that relationships are the key to happiness. What are you waiting for? Go out and meet a friend, or visit a community space where you can make a friend.

Do something creative: Spending time doing something creative—regardless of if you have any artistic talent—makes people happier and more energized. In some cases, making art or music might lead you into “flow,” or a state of absorbed focus that helps you temporarily lose track of time and other worries.

Move around: Even a small amount of exercise makes people happier. A recent review of multiple studies found that working out as little as once a week, or for only 10 minutes each day, makes people happier than others who don’t exercise. Those who exercise more are even happier (though note that there are diminishing returns: taken to an extreme, it’s no longer helpful). 

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Doing these simple things will make you happier than buying stuff this Monday

More than 165 million Americans plan to shop over the holiday weekend from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. But have you considered . . . doing something else? Research suggests that your experiences—like hiking or having a meal with friends—are ultimately more satisfying than possessions. With that in mind, here are four things you can do instead of spending and buying things this Monday.

Just go to a park: One incredibly simple way to feel happier, multiple studies suggest, is to spend time in nature. In one study, people who went for a walk in a natural area felt more positive emotions and less anxiety than people who walked in an urban area; if you can’t make it to the wilderness, another study showed that spending time in a green urban area also helped.

Go meet a friend: Being social is a reliable way to make yourself happier. A decades-long Harvard study that has followed people throughout their lives also says that relationships are the key to happiness. What are you waiting for? Go out and meet a friend, or visit a community space where you can make a friend.

Do something creative: Spending time doing something creative—regardless of if you have any artistic talent—makes people happier and more energized. In some cases, making art or music might lead you into “flow,” or a state of absorbed focus that helps you temporarily lose track of time and other worries.

Move around: Even a small amount of exercise makes people happier. A recent review of multiple studies found that working out as little as once a week, or for only 10 minutes each day, makes people happier than others who don’t exercise. Those who exercise more are even happier (though note that there are diminishing returns: taken to an extreme, it’s no longer helpful). 

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