Simple steps to happiness revealed

Washington: A new research has confirmed money can buy happiness-if you spend wisely.

"Purchasing things like televisions, clothes and coffee machines won`t make you happier overall-but buying experiences maximizes happiness," Michael Norton, PhD, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of `Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending` said.

Research shows that people who purchased concert tickets, a series of crochet lessons or simply a Tuesday night dinner out were happier than those who spent their money on tangible goods, according to

For one, it`s because we humans tend to get maximum pleasure and vitality from social bonding. Yet the payoffs start before you leave home.

"The anticipation of an experience can be as valuable a source of happiness as the experience itself," Norton said.

"And for months afterward, recalling the event continues to make you happy," he said.

You also want to prioritize stuff that truly brings you joy, whether it`s Saturday-morning gardening or a weekly racquetball date with your partner.

Basking in what`s already great about yourself is a more effective route to joy than trying to fix what`s not, Willibald Ruch, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Zurich who studies character strengths and happiness, said.

Identify your strong suits anything from creativity to perseverance.

People who consistently apply "signature strengths" experience less depression and more happiness.

As anyone who has argued with his or her spouse about tackling the pile of mail knows, a good marriage takes effort and time.

Couples who evaluated their relationship this way had less argument-induced stress-and significantly higher levels of happiness and passion-than those who didn`t quiz themselves.

People who walk or bike to the office may be happier than those who drive or take the bus, finds a 2012 study of 800 people in Portland, Ore.

The reasons are what you`d expect: You`re in control of the timing, there`s an endorphin rush from exercise and no traffic.

When you`re bummed out, the mere act of smiling can cheer you up.

The reasons for this effect have yet to be pinpointed, but one study at the University of Kansas in Lawrence reveals that flashing a grin slows down your heart rate during stress and chills you out.

And if you can`t bear to smile, sadness and the occasional bad mood are natural, too. No human can be happy 24/7, and maybe that`s the happiest news of all.