The Art of Happiness

Ah, happiness, that elusive state. Philosophers, theologians, psychologists, even economists, have long sought to define it, and since the 1990s, a whole branch of psychology—positive psychology—has been dedicated to pinning it down and propagating it. More than simply positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life—that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction.

Research shows that happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next; achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort.  Money is important to happiness, but only to a certain point. Money buys freedom from worry about the basics in life—housing, food, clothing. Genetic makeup, life circumstances, achievements, marital status, social relationships, even your neighbors—all influence how happy you are. Or can be.

So do individual ways of thinking and expressing feeling. Researchers estimate that much of happiness is under personal control. Regularly indulging in small pleasures (such as warm baths!), getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself are all actions that increase life satisfaction.

Recent posts on Happiness

Why Get Out of Bed?

By Jennifer Haupt on October 16, 2017 in One True Thing
What would happen if I didn’t rip back the sheets, slap one foot on the floor and then the other, and then keep on moving all day long? A meditation on functional depression.

The Real Reason Behind Teen Anxiety and Depression

By Jeffery S. Smith M.D. on October 16, 2017 in Healing and Growing
The real reason for increased anxiety and depression among young people is deeper and bigger than is often recognized.

Are You Confusing Comfort With Happiness?

By Peter Bregman on October 16, 2017 in How We Work
Discover the four pillars of meaning, why our culture has an obsession with happiness, and why happiness can’t be pursued.
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The Free Secret to Happiness

Embracing nature is one of the most powerful healing tools we have.

Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

By Rick Hanson Ph.D. on October 16, 2017 in Your Wise Brain
Make sure they are getting enough sleep and that they are eating correctly, doing exercise regularly, avoiding health hazards, and having regular checkups.

How to Ruin a Sister Relationship in One Easy Lesson

Want to heal things with your sister? Here's what NOT to do.

Time to Put Your Childhood Demons Behind You?

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on October 15, 2017 in Fixing Families
Everyone has baggage from the past that haunts or handicaps them in some way. The 3 common sources and ways to finally put these demons to rest

3 Hidden Ways Natural Disasters Hurt Happiness

With this recent series of earthquakes, record-breaking hurricanes, and fires – it seems more important than ever to discuss the impacts of natural disasters on human happiness.

Want to Be Happier? Ditch the Work-Life Balance Metaphor

By Andy Molinsky Ph.D. on October 14, 2017 in Adaptation
Want to Be Happier? Ditch the Work-Life Balance Metaphor

Is Facebook Making You Depressed?

Long a concern of psychologists studying Facebook use, the possibility of users become depressed comes under scrutiny in newly published research.
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Stop and Smell the Roses

5 steps to stop letting the rush rule win and start turning your attention to what’s along the way.

Scams, Scandals, and Security Breaches

We may feel bombarded with stories about the lack of ethics, seemingly everywhere. But we can take charge and actively establish rings of trust around us.

How Many Ways Can We Measure Well-Being?

By Todd B. Kashdan Ph.D. on October 12, 2017 in Curious?
A new framework can be useful for triggering conversation. Whether it breaks new ground scientifically is a different matter.

Feel the Wind at Your Back

By Jaime L. Kurtz Ph.D. on October 12, 2017 in Happy Trails
Consider a new type of gratitude question.
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Questing for Economic Utopia, Part 2

By Chris Kutarna Ph.D. on October 11, 2017 in Age of Discovery
Worried that we're all serving the economy instead of the other way around? You're right, and here's how to flip that logic.

Are Same-Sex or Heterosexual Relationships More Stable?

As Americans become more accepting of sexual minorities, differences between same-sex and different-sex relationships are smaller than ever.
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Are Past Relationships Putting a Damper on Your Current One?

By Vijayeta Sinh Ph.D. on October 11, 2017 in Life in Balance
Don't drag past relationships with you. Trying to understand them will help you move forward.
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Keeping a Positive Attitude

By Diana Raab PhD on October 10, 2017 in The Empowerment Diary
Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the negative news and the apparent increase in mass murders in the U.S.? While disheartening, it's important to also be mindful of all the good.

Friendship at Work Can Be Tricky, But Also Life-Saving

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on October 10, 2017 in Feeling It
Friendships at work are critical for happiness and success - but you have to manage them with skill

Why Children Make Great Role Models

Have you ever stopped to notice how much children know about life? As it turns out, it's quite a lot.

We Are Joyous and Playful to the Very End

By Bernard L. De Koven on October 09, 2017 in On Having Fun
Maybe it's possible that if you get good enough at pretending, you can pretend your way to bliss. Real. Genuine. Actual bliss.
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Questing for Economic Utopia, Part 1

By Chris Kutarna Ph.D. on October 09, 2017 in Age of Discovery
Is this going to be humanity's best century—or worst? How we choose to measure progress will decide.
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When Trust Hits Rough Waters, Flow Like a River

We have an ever-present source of happiness and wisdom inside us, all the time.

Can You Take A Moment?

By Rick Hanson Ph.D. on October 09, 2017 in Your Wise Brain
Stop the urgency of the day and let a quiet fill the air let your thoughts slow down. There is presence in this moment, and no worries about the future.

So You Think You Can't Meditate?

A common misconception about meditation is that we need to clear our mind of thoughts. Not true — meditation is simply noticing our thoughts — and everyone can do it.

The Weekend Effect

Is your work dragging you down? Here are some possible reasons why and what you can do about it.

“You Need to Forgive!" and Other Lies That Hurt You

Encouraging forgiveness can leave the hurt party feeling emotionally unsteady and betrayed all over again.
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How to Be More Spontaneous

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on October 07, 2017 in Fixing Families
Many of us who tend towards the routinized or cautious would like to be a bit more spontaneous. Here's tips on how to get started.

Three Reasons Why “Quick Forgiveness” Is Not Phony

By Robert Enright Ph.D. on October 07, 2017 in The Forgiving Life
Not all quick forgiveness is phony forgiveness.

A New Way to Test Your Relationship's Health

Staying in a close relationship is always a matter of balancing its pros and cons. This new rating scale will help you pin down what’s working, or not, in yours.