The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky is one of the most scientific studies done on the subject. The thesis is only 50% of happiness is due to your genetics, 10% is due to circumstances and 40% is totally in our control due to the activities engage in. The last 40% is the key and exhaustive research shows that if we do focus on that 40% we can be much happier. So here are the lessons I gleaned from this wonderful book.
Gratitude – We all know this at a visceral level but engaging in deliberate gratitude is the key. Gratitude is the antidote to depression and envy. Some of the best ways are to maintain a journal and record everything you are grateful. You can also write every day what you are thankful for. It doesn’t have to be elaborate just five minutes in a day. You can dive deeper into my article on gratitude. Gratitude is the key to Happiness
Optimism – Optimism is the key to happiness. How positive are you about the future and that will determine how much joy you have? One of the exercises mentioned here is to project into your best self-5 years from now and then 10 years from now. Imagine yourself living your best life in all areas and just keep that picture in your mind. It is also good to always look for the good in every situation. You can also check out my article on optimism here. The Optimist’s Manifesto
Avoiding overthinking – Whenever you are overthinking immediately distract yourself with some other activity which will make you happy. For me the best is a quick walk or a workout. Another way is to read a book. There is another mechanism called pattern interrupt so when something is boiling in your mind immediately stay stop and short-circuit the emotion. Finally, you can journal about your emotions and you will feel a lot better.
Practicing kindness – This is another way to boost happiness immediately. You can be kind to everyone you meet. When you make others feel good about themselves you feel good about yourself. We can also be kind to ourselves.
Nurturing social relationships – Face to face interaction with your colleagues, family and friends always helps. So, we should try to create more situations to get this going. The phrase management by wandering around is a good technique to use with your team,
Practicing forgiveness– We cannot be happy if we have a heavy heart. Forgive everyone you think has hurt you. First off, the key is it is our thoughts that create this turmoil in our mind. The other person probably doesn’t even know that we are still carrying a hurt. One way you can do this is to write a letter to that person forgiving them. You can follow Abraham Lincoln’s method of writing something but not sharing it with the other person. Another key is to forgive yourself for everything that you think you shouldn’t have done. The fact is it has already happened so there is only so much you can beat yourself for.
Take care of your body – A lot of happy people are engaging in some of physical exercise every day if possible. So, do take the time to create a schedule of workout that works for your specific situation. It does make you feel better.
Optimizing flow experiences – This is the state where you feel you can do no wrong. The best way to attain this is to engage in an activity that you love. For me reading, writing and exercising gives me that state which I really like. Another key is to create some alone time for thinking and just relaxing.
Commit to your goals – I think science is now saying what all of us know for a long time. When you have clear goals for all areas of your life you will feel happier. So, do take the time to write goals for your business, physical, financial, social and contribution lives. Review the goals on a regular basis and make course corrections. Goals are better than resolutions and have a more long-term perspective.
There are a few more strategies mentioned in the book. She also mentions about some of the behaviors of happy people based on research which is what is mentioned above as well. The happiest people engage in gratitude, offer a helping hand, practice optimism, engage in exercise, and have strong goals that they are committed to.
There you have it some great ways you can increase your happiness levels and maintain it at a prominent level. I have written a few happiness articles you can check out.
My Happiness Project – My Happiness Project
9 G’s of Happiness – 9 G’s of Happiness
A-Z of Happiness – 26 tips to be truly Happy
I want to finish with this wonderful quote mentioned in the book on what it takes to build a happy life. This was by an Australian psychiatrist named W. Beran Wolfe “If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert.”
Thanks for reading this post. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.