Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


The Happiness Hack: Create Connections, Not Distractions

How to get your life back from technology.

Source: Pixabay

According to Ellen Petry Leanse, author of The Happiness Hack, billions of us log in to Facebook everyday, we send 6 billion text messages daily, and we share 9,000 snaps (on Snapchat) per second. Yet, 1 in 4 Americans feels lonely. We are more connected than ever, but not in the ways that matter for our happiness and well-being. What might we do to build happiness now, given the connections that we have are not helping our happiness?

Here are four tips that Ellen suggests in her new book, The Happiness Hack.

1. Connect IRL (In Real Life)

Connecting in real life may not be as easy as it once was. Smartphone buzzes and subsequent wandering minds are now culturally accepted. But our phone addiction can really hurt us. It's now imperative that we do whatever we can to keep our smartphones from hurting our relationships. Usually this means building stronger in-person connections, because even something as simple as a smile can boost dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins–the feel good hormones. So break up with your phone and look at people instead.

2. Look at other people

When we are shunned or rejected, we may feel lonely. And loneliness puts our brains into self-preservation mode. When we truly see each other, we connect more easily and feel less lonely. So see people–by looking up from your phone or computer–and they will be more likely to see you, which can help you feel happier and be more resilient.

3. Rethink solitude

Your never ending to-do list (or mishandled work-life blending) may leave you too stressed to find meaning in your life. But opting to relax alone at the end of the day with our tech toys can really get us stuck in unhappiness—not to mention that there are negative effects of social media on well-being. So if we use social media to decompress, we may be doing more harm than good. Instead, it's often easier to find a sense of purpose by meaningfully impacting others' lives, which usually needs to be done in person.

4. Unplug

As a society, we are losing our social skills, our empathy, and our well-being as we increasingly spend more and more of time with technology instead of with people. Phone addiction has become ubiquitous and support to help people go through a digital detox are now commonplace. So unplug every now and then, and take a break from technology.

Want to learn more about how to build happiness in the digital age? Check out

More from Tchiki Davis, Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today