How to Be Happy
3. Don't Try to Buy Happiness
Sure, money helps, especially if you start out poor and then do better. But
a nationwide study published last year in Social Indicators Research
found that those who avidly pursued possessions were less satisfied with their
friendships, families, jobs — even their health — than participants who were
4. Switch Gears
A study at the University of Missouri-Columbia tracked hundreds of subjects
who experienced a change in their circumstances (like moving to a nicer place)
and in their activities (like pursuing a new hobby). A few months later, those
who changed their activities reported more gains in well-being. One possible
reason: A shift in circumstances often involves a onetime event, which can fade
into the background of our lives, says study author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.,
who wrote The How of Happiness. Exploring a new interest, on the other
hand, is inherently entertaining, and may lead you to discover other activities
5. Lose Yourself in the Moment
If you're in a bad mood, try to find your "flow." The word describes
a "state of effortless concentration and enjoyment," writes Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., a leading expert in positive psychology, which focuses
on increasing one's joys and strengths. For some people, achieving flow means
whooshing down a ski slope; for me, it's working my way through a crossword
puzzle. What delivers the most happiness: whatever activity energizes you and
makes you feel like time is flying by — or even makes you lose track of it.
6. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
In a Japanese study of 175 people published last year, happy and unhappy
participants experienced the same number of negative moments each day. The big
difference: The contented subjects had more frequent and intense positive
One way to feel happier is to recognize good things when they happen. If you
have trouble counting your blessings, try keeping a gratitude journal. Several
studies show that people who record what they appreciate experience greater
happiness, less anxiety — and even better sleep. Gratitude, I've found, is also
an excellent antidote to grumpiness.
7. Share the Love
The Japanese study also found that contented people's happy experiences most
often involved connecting with someone. In an earlier study,
positive-psychology researchers Ed Diener, Ph.D., and Martin E.P. Seligman,
Ph.D., discovered a similar pattern. "One hundred percent of the very happy
people had good relationships," says Diener. It didn't matter if the strong
bond was with a partner, a friend, or a parent — the important thing was that
the person had at least two out of three of these essential relationships.
"We have what looks like a necessary condition for greater happiness,"
It's not surprising, then, that marriage also correlates very strongly with
overall happiness. In a National Opinion Research Center poll of 3,500 people
that was released last year, 42 percent of the marrieds reported that they were
very happy, compared with only 19 percent of the singles. What's going on here?
Experts theorize that people benefit from having a reliable emotional partner
in their life.
The fastest way to improve your relationships: Set aside inviolable time for
them, experts suggest. (I'm on top of it; my husband and I just scheduled a