Want to feel happier? Just go somewhere new
London - One of the keys to happiness in life lies in visiting new places and mixing up your daily routine, a study suggests.
With the lockdown restrictions underway, finding creative ways to routine may be just what we need to make us smile a little more.
Volunteers whose movements were tracked for up to four months reported more positive emotions when they had more variety in their lives.
Going to new places improved their mood even when it was cold and raining and regardless of the day of the week and time of day, the survey found. The study by New York University followed the movements of 122 people aged 18 to 31 using GPS technology.
Every other day they were asked to rate their positive feelings, such as being happy, excited or relaxed. They also recorded levels of negative feelings, which included nervousness, irritability and sluggishness.
Co-author Dr Catherine Hartley said: "Our results suggest that people feel happier with more variety in their daily routines – when they go to novel places and have a wider array of experiences."
Previous studies on rats showed similar positive effects to variations in routine. Researchers also scanned the brains of almost half the study group to see if this might explain the link between exploring and happiness, the journal Nature Neuroscience reported.
It turned out that the subjects who reacted most happily had more brain connections between their hippocampus and the striatum – the regions which process new and rewarding experiences.