Happiness is a hot commodity! Last year, over 4,000 books were published on happiness. Also, the most popular class at Harvard University these days is positive psychology – or the study of happiness, and at least 100 other universities offer similar courses. So, if you want to boost your well-being, here’s what you need to know.
- Getting what you want doesn’t bring lasting happiness. Who hasn’t thought that if only they could win the lottery they’d be happy? The truth is – yes, there might be a temporary spike in happiness, but after a period of adjustment, we bounce back to our previous level of happiness. Why? Because we quickly get used to our accomplishments and start looking for the next big thing. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, says this mindset keeps happiness just out of our reach. The cure? Focus on activities that bring you to life, that surprise you, and hold your attention. That’ll make you happier than accumulating shiny stuff. Why? Because new experiences in which you can get fully absorbed enrich you mentally and emotionally in a way that cold, hard cash never can.
- Options make us miserable! We’re constantly making decisions and we think the more choices we have, the better. However, our world of unlimited opportunity actually makes us less happy. Psychologist Barry Schwartz calls it “the paradox of choice.” In a nutshell, having lots of choices leaves us stressed out – and less satisfied with whichever decision we do make. Why? Because having all those choices keeps us wondering about the opportunities we missed. Your best bet is choose something and don’t look back.
- Happiness boils down to living your VALUES. No matter how much you achieve, if you aren’t living according to your values – you won’t be happy. Don’t know what your values are exactly? Ask yourself this question: “If time and money were no object, what would you choose to do with your life?” Once you’ve answered that question honestly, you need to start taking steps toward that ideal vision of yourself. According to Schwartz, the state of happiness isn’t really a state at all. It’s an ongoing personal experiment in trial and error.