How To Improve Happiness

One of my favorite happiness writers, Dr Arthur Brooks has yet another happiness article on The Atlantic, titled 10 Practical Ways to Improve Happiness. In his latest article, Dr Brooks list most practices ways of achieving happiness based on a distinguished and prolific academic team of experts on the science of happiness, that is reportedly workable and does work as well.

Dr Books: 10 Practical Ways to Improve Happiness

  1. Invest in family and friends. The research is clear that though our natural impulse may be to buy stuff, we should invest instead in improving our closest relationships by sharing experiences and freeing up time to spend together.
  2. Join a club. The “social capital” you get from voluntarily and regularly associating with other people, whether or not you do so through a formal club, has long been known to foster a sense of belonging and protect against loneliness and isolation.
  3. Be active both mentally and physically. You can make this advice as complicated and expensive as you want. But if you like to keep things simple, just try to walk for an hour and read for an hour (not for work!) each day.
  4. Practice your religion. This might sound impractical if you don’t have a traditional faith or practice it traditionally. However, for the purposes of happiness, religion can be understood more broadly, as a spiritual or philosophical path in life. Search for transcendent truths beyond your narrow day-to-day life.
  5. Get physical exercise. This is a slightly souped-up version of No. 3 above: Your daily walk should be supplemented with a purposive exercise plan. This is consistent with the research showing that regular exercise of all different types enhances mood and social functioning.
  6. Act nicely. Agreeableness is consistently found to be highly and positively correlated with happiness, and it can be increased relatively easily.
  7. Be generous. Behaving altruistically toward others rewards the brain with happiness-enhancing boosts of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.
  8. Check your health. Of all health issues, those that create the greatest unhappiness are typically chronic pain and anxiety. Don’t neglect your visits to the doctor and the dentist, and seek mental-health assistance if your emotions are interfering with your work, relationships, or social activities.
  9. Experience nature. Studies have shown that, compared with urban walking, walking in a woodland setting more dramatically lowers stress, increases positive mood, and enhances working memory.
  10. Socialize with colleagues outside of work. Data have shown that work friendships increase employee engagement, which is associated with both happiness and productivity for workers. I believe that the move to remote work during the pandemic has inadvertently lowered the true compensation of work for millions, explaining in part the so-called Great Resignation. Bonding with your co-workers is a way to take it back.

Source: The Atlantic

Dr Brooks writes that a happiness strategy has three parts to it.

First, you need to commit yourself to understanding happiness. That can mean many things, whether it’s learning about the science of happiness, studying philosophy, or immersing yourself in a faith practice.

Second, you need to practice good happiness hygiene. That’s where the ideas on the list above come in. Treat them as systematic habits, not occasional hacks, and think consciously about whether each action is consistent with your understanding of happiness.

Finally, share your knowledge and progress with others. Beyond being an ethical thing to do, teaching will cement your philosophy and habits into your consciousness.