Doing This One Simple Thing Every Day Can Make You Happier, Expert Says
You'll be more productive and content if you complete an easy task every day.
We're a society of busy bodies. Our to-do lists are always a mile long, and no matter how many things we cross off, there always seems to be a million more to go. While some of those duties are essential—like work or home responsibilities—others are the kinds of things we fill our spare time with in order to feel productive (like baking banana bread in quarantine, for example). But doing all of these chores doesn't actually make us happier. In fact, it truly is the little things that matter the most, research shows.
"Huge achievements are much less likely than small wins, and if we wait for them to feel good about our work, most of us are going to suffer through vast deserts of tedium," Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, recently told The New York Times.
Instead, Amabile explained there's an easy way to feel more accomplished and content with your life. Do one minor task each day—whether that's reading a chapter in a book or washing the dishes—and consider it a "small win."
According to Amabile's research, taking the time to appreciate completing these mundane but meaningful tasks can have as much of a positive impact on your productivity, happiness, and confidence as finishing a large project can.
Similarly, a 2016 study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research also found that the simple pleasures in life give people the most satisfaction. This explains why you might feel a sense of fulfillment when you hang a picture that's been sitting around for weeks or finally call that friend you've been playing phone tag with.
"At the end of each day, you should recognize your wins—large and small—and celebrate them," Amabile said. And for more easy ways to find joy, check out these 50 Happiness Hacks That Are Entirely Backed by Science.