Skip to content

    Happiness is a serious subject for many researchers these days. Some studies show that you have some control over how happy you feel.

    Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor and happiness researcher, writes that your genes decide about 50% of your happiness. Issues in your life that may be hard to change -- like your looks, your health, and your income -- only explain about 10%. That leaves about 40% up to you. It’s something you can control.

    "Happiness is much better thought of as a skill or a set of skills that we need to learn and practice," says Christine Carter, PhD, author of Raising Happiness. These skills are like speaking a foreign language: They come easier to some people, but working on them helps you get better at them. "Everybody needs to practice those skills before they can become fluent."

    Connect with others.

    "A person's happiness is best predicted by their connections to other people," Carter says. Give some thought to how connected you feel to other people, like your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. If you don't feel close to many people, make an effort to:

    • Spend more time with your friends and loved ones.
    • Get out of your house and meet new people:

      -- Join a club.

      -- Take a class.

      -- Check out a church or other religious gathering that interests you.

    Spending time on social media web sites isn't the same as connecting with people in real life, she says. A study of 82 Facebook users found that the more time they spent on the site, the worse they felt. Social media should add to your person-to-person time, not replace it, she says. If you feel jealous that other people appear to be having a happier life than you are, consider cutting back on these sites.