How to become happier.
When you think of a typical New Years resolution, you probably think of someone committing to eat healthier, get to the gym, or lose weight. It isn’t typically thought of as a standard New Years resolution, but being happier ranks right up there with these more typical resolutions.
So a large portion of us want to be happier. Of course, this begs the question: how do you increase your happiness? Is it even possible? Fortunately, science says we can increase our happiness and has concrete recommendations for how we can go about doing it.
What happiness is and isn’t
To get started with increasing happiness, it’s important to gain a better understanding of what happiness is and isn’t. One of the most common mistakes is conflating happiness with fun or pleasure. They aren’t the same thing. Fun and pleasure can come and go in an instant. Happiness is deeper seated and longer lasting — it doesn’t come or go quickly based on daily circumstances.
Some things that are fun and pleasurable may support happiness — a hike with friends or a great meal with family, for example. But plenty of other things that are fun or pleasurable can undermine happiness. Substance abuse is a prime example of something that can be pleasurable in the moment but consistently undermines happiness at the same time.
Happiness is a deep, long lasting sense of well being that is largely independent of daily circumstances.
So where does happiness come from?
When we confuse happiness with fun or pleasure, we tend to think that happiness comes from external stimuli that provide pleasure. We start to think that happiness comes from new clothes and fun experiences. But as we already discussed, happiness isn’t the same as fun or pleasure.
Happiness comes from our habits. In fact, we can think of happiness as the sum of our habits. Happiness supporting habits gradually increase our happiness over time and habits that undermine our happiness gradually decrease our happiness over time.