5 Science-Backed Ways to Cultivate Joy

Our birth charts provide us with a picture of what we’re here to work with (the what, where and how; even the when and sometimes the why) with the planets and placements. It’s a small, albeit concise glimpse into your personality and traits, the good, the bad and the changeable—and thankfully it’s all somewhat changeable.

When it comes to emotions, specifically with happiness and joy, there are certain signs and planets that can help boost how you feel. Fire planets are great for that increase in joy and playful sense, while water and earth provide a more nurturing and comforting vibe. Then there’s air signs, which much like fire with joy, can help enhance how we talk and speak to ourselves and the world in more positive ways. Tapping the air moon days for meditation and affirmations is a great tip!

But when you don’t have an ephemeris handy—or a dedicated astrologer—to figure out these moon days and signs, there are other ways to increase your joy and happiness.

Kick the Meds. Not all medications, of course. But researchers from Ohio State University found that there’s a possible correlation between commonly used pain-relievers acetaminophen and our emotions; mainly the pain-relievers tends to numb or blunt positive emotions. Acetaminophen, which is the main ingredient in several over-the-counter drugs, including Tylenol and Advil, has been shown to not only diminish physical pain but also psychological, and these researchers are saying that it could also possibly impact the positive feelings as well. “Rather than just being a pain-relievers, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever,” said Geoffrey Durso, lead author of the study.

Give to Others. Giving is apparently the gift that keeps on giving, according to researchers from two separate studies. Researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management found that although there are activities and events that people do for joy that diminishes over time (a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation), giving to others—whether tipping for service or donating proceeds from a game, as with the experiments conducted in the studies—is the exception to the rule.

Add Mindfulness to Your Routine. Mindfulness and meditation are key joy-cultivators. But studies show that it not only brings joy, but also impacts the structure and chemistry of the brain. Researchers from the University of Utah found that when taught mental training techniques through an integrated mind-body therapy, 135 opioid users reported not only experiencing increased happiness and more meaning in life, but their brains also demonstrated being less reactive to cue related to opioid medication.

Listen to Classic Songs. They don’t make music like they used to. It isn’t just your parents complaining about the good, old days of music, it looks like science is backing them up. Lawrence Technological University recently published a study that highlighted changes in music from the 1950s to 2016, using quantitative analytics to study and review the changes in lyrics popular music. The results: the more modern tunes are apparently angrier. So listen to earlier tunes of Motown or The Beatles—or better yet, try jazz or classical music without any lyrics at all.

Eat Almonds. You thought we were going to suggest you stick to the greens. Although vegetables have their benefits, nuts—specifically almonds—have their benefits, too. This sweet little snack provide massive amount of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamin E and helps with blood pressure and cholesterol levels; all benefits that impact how people experience levels of stress and depression.

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