I recently completed Yale’s online course, The Science of Well-being – a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. I passed (although
I did sweat as I waited for my grade), so here are my top takeaways, which I hope help you increase your happiness.
1. You Can Increase Your Happiness
Genetics account for 50 percent of one’s happiness, life circumstances 10 percent, and 40 percent is up to each individual’s intentional thoughts and actions.
2. The Things You Think Will Make You Happy Probably Won’t
Most people think that money, fancy material objects, true love, and a perfect body are the keys to happiness. However, research shows that unless you make less than $75,000 a year, more money does not equate to more happiness. And, chasing material objects and comparing one’s self to others actually detracts from happiness.
3. As it Relates to Happiness, Your Mind is Not Your Friend
The mind plays tricks on us which can confuse us on our journey to happiness. Besides the fact that our minds are built to get used to things and hence, take them for granted, our minds trick us into judging ourselves through social comparison, which is toxic to happiness.
4. The Fix? Get Intentional and Do Things That Actually Drive Happiness
What are these things? Engage in 30 minutes of exercise at least three days a week, choose experiences – like going to a concert or on a hike – vs. material things, start a gratitude journal, volunteer, and do one random act of kindness every day.
JILL, WHAT CAN I DO? The plan is laid out in number four above and I have a few personal tips to make it a reality. For exercise, schedule the three weekly workouts on your calendar like meetings each Sunday. For experiences, tell your family and friends that whenever they give you a gift, it can’t be material – it has to be an experience. For volunteering, VolunteerMatch.org will help you find opportunities near your home. Finally, the next time you go through a drive-though, pay for the order from the car behind you. That happened to me last week and I beamed for hours. To your happiness.