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

Taking A Step Back Could Save Your Relationship

By Amie M. Gordon PhD on March 25, 2017 in Between You and Me
Looking at disagreements from the view of an outside observer provides new insights that just might change the course of your relationship.

Belief in Sexual Compatibility Can Sour Your Sex Life

The satisfaction we derive from sex is largely influenced by the attitudes we hold about how it should play out with our partner(s).

Is a Bird in the Hand Worth Two in the Bush?

By Neel Burton M.D. on March 24, 2017 in Hide and Seek
A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush, if you don't kill it.

How to Be Spontaneous

By Katherine Hawley Ph.D. on March 24, 2017 in Trust
Planning for spontaneity seems doomed to fail, but self-trust can help you have more fun.

The Secret to Happiness

It is easier for us to create a list of what we want the world to give us than it is to think in terms of what we can give back to the world.

Do You Ever Feel That You're Not Interesting Enough?

In the book and film "About a Boy," the main adult character comes to realize that his life of leisure and pleasure may prevent him from finding love. What can we learn from this?

8 Things Mentally Strong People Do to Gain Financial Freedom

These strategies can help you gain better control over your mind and your money.

Hate Your Partner Some Days? Research Shows You're Not Alone

By Amie M. Gordon PhD on March 23, 2017 in Between You and Me
Do you sometimes hate your partner? If so, you're not alone. It turns out we all have times when we hate the people we love the most. Although some of us may not even know it.

“I’d Rather Not Be a Recluse”

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on March 23, 2017 in How To Do Life
The latest in a series of profiles on reclusive people.

5 Ways Self-Compassion Promotes a Healthy Body Image

By Juliana Breines Ph.D. on March 22, 2017 in In Love and War
Many people are overly critical of their appearance. If you're one of them, self-compassion might help.

Relatedness and Autonomy, A Delicate Balance

"Successful mountain climbers know that they must spend at least as much time if not more, in tending their base camp as they actually do climbing mountains..." - M Scott Peck
DepositPhotos/VIA Institute

Disability and Strengths: We Need Phase 3!

5 practical strategies to move you into Phase 3, helping you take on a character strengths-based mindset.

Get Outside in a Park With Your People

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 21, 2017 in Open Gently
Get outside in greenery to have difficult conversations or to bond.

10 Minutes to More Serenity With This Comforting Ritual

How a 10-minute task can, surprisingly, become a Zen moment.

Have You Got the "Too Busy" Blues?

Feelings of low mood and depression seem to be the norm these days, especially for women. Could it be that your too-busy life is largely to blame?

Who's Harder to Buy Gifts for, Men or Women? It Depends!

Who’s harder to buy gifts for, men or women? It depends on who’s doing the giving!
Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Materialism's One-Two Punch

Materialism is a philosophy about what makes for a good life. Embracing it is associated with unhappiness. But abandoning it might not make you much happier - or any happier. Why?

The Mindset that Makes it Hard to Admit You're Wrong

People make mistakes all the time, but for many of us, admitting to them is painful and hard. Figuring out how to apologize can at least get you on the right pathway.

What Are You Resisting?

By Rick Hanson Ph.D. on March 21, 2017 in Your Wise Brain
It is easy to accept life’s beautiful things. It is the hard things in life that are hard to accept. The sweet spot is both by accepting the fact that they are what they are.

5 Exercises That Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success

A strong mind will take you far in life. Here's how to exercise your brain.

10 Ways to Find More Happiness

Happiness can be as confounding as Indiana Jones looking for lost treasure. Just when you think you have a clue, some giant boulder comes rolling toward you.

How to Have a Happy Day

How- and why- to be happier. 3 tips to greater happiness in your life.
jessica wilson, flickr

For the International Day of Happiness

By Gretchen Rubin on March 20, 2017 in The Happiness Project
If someone asked you, “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about happiness?” what would you answer?
Pixabay

Mirror Neurons, Empathy, and the First Memories of Life

By Arthur J. Clark Ed.D. on March 19, 2017 in Dawn of Memories
How neuroscience informs the meaning of early childhood recollections.

Apologies Are for the Weak: How to Crush Your Enemy

New research indicates that real men don't apologize.

Small Changes Can Have Big Effects: The I-M Approach

By Joseph A. Shrand M.D. on March 18, 2017 in The I-M Approach
Have you ever promised yourself to do something only to fail miserably? Perhaps you are trying to do too much. The I-M Approach reminds us that small changes can have big effects.

Mistakes Don't Have to Be Setbacks: 3 Ways to be Resilient

It’s never pleasant to make mistakes but they don't have to ruin your life. New research on resilience shows 3 ways to keep little things that go wrong from becoming a big deal.

Recovering From Trauma and Its Obstacles

By James F. Zender Ph.D. on March 17, 2017 in The New Normal
The power of self-care.

Three Ways to Choose a Partner

By Sheila Kohler on March 17, 2017 in Dreaming for Freud
"He is coming to paint my house!" she said, her eyes shining with admiration. "Imagine, he offered! I immediately knew he was a keeper."

The Art of Doing Nothing

By Colleen Long Psy.D. on March 16, 2017 in The Happiness Rx
Learn how wasting time is not time wasted.