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Don't worry, be happyThere's no single formula for happiness. But scientists continue to investigate aspects of our lives that may affect our well-being, including social media use, exercise and even our posture.
Here are eight interesting things we learned in 2017 about the factors that may influence happiness and lower your odds of stress and depression.
How sharing can make kids happySlide 2 of 17
How sharing can make kids happyFor young children, sharing can bring happiness, but only if they do it voluntarily, a study from China suggests.
The study looked at groups of 3- and 5-year-olds who were either pressured to share objects — in this case, stickers — or were given the opportunity to share voluntarily.
The researchers found, judging by facial expressions, that the kids were happier when they shared voluntarily, compared with when they kept the stickers for themselves. In contrast, the kids did not experience the same happiness boost when they were pressured to share.
The study suggested that children can experience a positive mood when they share voluntarily, which may lead to further sharing, the researchers said.
The study was published in the May issue of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.Slide 3 of 17
Meditation could lower the body's stress signalsSlide 4 of 17
Meditation could lower the body's stress signalsPracticing meditation could help your body handle stress better.
In one study, people with anxiety disorder who took a course in mindfulness meditation showed reduced levels of stress hormones and markers of inflammation during a stressful event, compared with how their bodies reacted before taking the meditation course. In contrast, participants who did not learn mindfulness meditation, but instead took a course in stress management, did not show similar reductions in the same measures during a stressful event.
Mindfulness meditation helps people learn to focus on the present moment, and accept difficult thoughts or feelings.
The study findings suggest that mindfulness meditation "may be a helpful strategy to decrease biological stress reactivity" in people with anxiety disorder, the researchers wrote in their study, which was published Jan. 24 in the journal Psychiatry Research.Slide 5 of 17
Exercise may boost your moodSlide 6 of 17
Exercise may boost your moodEven a little exercise may help combat symptoms of depression..
The study analyzed information from nearly 34,000 Norwegian adults, who were asked about their level of exercise as well as their symptoms of depression, and were followed for 11 years.
The study found that people who said that they never exercised at all at the beginning of the study were 44 percent more likely to develop depression, compared with those who said they exercised 1 to 2 hours per week.
The researchers estimated that, if all participants had exercised for at least 1 hour a week, 12 percent of cases of depression could have been prevented.
The researchers conclude that modest changes in a population's level of exercise could have substantial mental health benefits.
The study was published Oct. 3 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.Slide 7 of 17
Hawaii is the happiest state … againSlide 8 of 17