What Actually Makes Us Happy

Psychologist Dr. Laurie Santos teaches about happiness at Yale. Her research lab has summarized the voluminous data on what actually makes us happy.

The main themes:

    • developing a sense of meaning or purpose
    • connection with other people
    • meditation and reflection
    • taking time off/resting if you are overwhelmed (avoiding burnout)
    • sense of belonging
    • overcoming impulses in the moment: instead of Netflix or scrolling, try exercising, journaling, or reading
    • having a sense of gratitude increases emotional self-regulation, even during times of stress
    • money generally does not make us happy. If you live below the poverty line, more money increases happiness. If you make $100,000 and you increase it to $600,000, your happiness goes up from 64 points to 65 points. Pretty much the same as getting a good night of sleep. Past a certain point, more money does not lead to increased happiness or life satisfaction
    • avoiding down comparisons: the feeling that happiness is just around the corner and other people are happier than you are
    • how to increase happiness: Reflect on the acronym www.:
        • WHAT is your reason to do something
        • WHY did you want to do it? Was it avoidance, a passion for something, the desire to learn…?
        • WHEN did you do it? Timing and dosage.

See also: Stones Across the River.

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