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

How to Compliment Beautiful People Better

By Donna Barstow on June 29, 2017 in Ink Blots Cartoons
There is an art to giving compliments. Done the right way, you will both benefit!

Running, Writing, and Deep Play

By Alex Pang Ph.D. on June 28, 2017 in Rest
We often think of hobbies as a distraction from our busy working lives. In fact, the right kind of "deep play" can help us be better at our jobs, and even be more creative.

Should You Compliment a Beautiful Person?

By Donna Barstow on June 28, 2017 in Ink Blots Cartoons
Even if you're not one of the beautiful people, you can still look and enjoy!
Static-Pexels

Where is Your Home?

By Diana Raab PhD on June 27, 2017 in The Empowerment Diary
If you are like most Americans and have moved an average of eleven times, have you wondered where your home is? When you get down to it, home is where your heart is.
Pixabay

Stop Making Me So Anxious!

Consider these five ways to move yourself away from the negative overtones and undertones and back to a centered, peaceful place.

A Quick and Painless Way to Manage Social Anxiety

One of the most common forms of anxiety people experience involves an extreme fear of being judged by others. Find out how you can identify and cope with social anxiety’s symptoms.

Are You Hiding Behind Your Texts?

By Zack Carter Ph.D. on June 27, 2017 in Clear Communication
Could relying solely on texting with someone you're close with actually be driving you apart from them?

Recognizing and Accepting Psychological Distress

By Elyssa Barbash Ph.D. on June 27, 2017 in Trauma and Hope
It is very common for high-functioning individuals to brush-off symptoms of psychological distress, but addressing these difficulties can yield many positive benefits.

Three Surprising Ways Nature Leads to Success and Joy

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on June 27, 2017 in Feeling It
Green spaces boost happiness, make you smarter and more creative. So many science-backed reasons to go take a hike!

Sharks and Stoics

By John Sean Doyle on June 27, 2017 in Luminous Things
We have heard it so often it has become cliché. Our thoughts about things, really are different than the things themselves.

Unable to Bury a Dead Love

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on June 27, 2017 in Obesely Speaking
Pretending to be happy is easier than actually being happy sometimes.

How is Meaning in Life Different from Self-Actualization?

Eudaimonic well-being is a fancy term for living a meaningful life. New research examines the different motives behind different kinds of self-fulfillment.

How to Give to Others Without Burning Out

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on June 26, 2017 in Feeling It
Many of us feel burned out. Taking care of others seems like one more burden. Here are science-backed ways you can give to others, reap the benefits, and feel nourished too!

Are You Getting Rope Burn?

By Rick Hanson Ph.D. on June 26, 2017 in Your Wise Brain
As you cling less, it becomes natural for one to lighten up, stay out of quarrels, have more compassion, and forgive. You'll feel more fed by the richness inherent in the present.

Driving Me Wild

I'd like to remain detached when cheaters cut in and just let aggressive drivers have their way. Instead, I go wild. I get agitated and yell expletives.
Mixmike/iStock

Dealing with Disappointment

By Tara Well Ph.D. on June 25, 2017 in The Clarity
Disappointment can be an opportunity to get clarity on what you really want—get it!

Do You Have to Be Self-Centered to Be Self-Actualized?

What would you do to reach your highest potential? A new series of studies raises doubts about the classical view of self-actualization.

The Most Powerful Word For Promoting Love And Intimacy Is...

By Clifford N Lazarus Ph.D. on June 24, 2017 in Think Well
There is one simple word that has incredible power when it comes to promoting love, closeness and good feelings in meaningful relationships. It may surprise you to know what it is

You Are More Than Your Emotional Pain: You Are a Person

When you are in emotional pain, do your best to resist defining yourself primarily by that pain which you carry within. You are a person of great worth. Try to see this.

The U.S. Is Not Doing Well Socially

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on June 24, 2017 in Side Effects
The U.S. shows growing signs of being an unhappy, divided country, according to a string of indexes measuring national happiness and well-being.

8 Ways to Ask Questions and Improve Your Relationships

Knowing how to ask the right questions is a fundamental skill to relationship-building. Based on new research, these 8 tips will help you get the answers you need.

Are Not Emotions Persons?

“The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not." —Susan B. Anthony

Making Peace with Your Adult Children

By Kathy McCoy Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in Complicated Love
Want to enjoy better health as you age? Improving a certain relationship may be the key!

One-Hit Wonder

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in How To Do Life
A short-short story about a has-been, who feels his best days are behind him.

A Diverse Spectrum of Positive Emotions Reduces Inflammation

Experiencing a wide range of daily positive emotions such as being calm, cheerful, enthusiastic, excited, inspired, etc. can reduce systemic inflammation, according to a new study.

Seven Steps to Money Success

By Michael F. Kay on June 22, 2017 in Financial Life Focus
We all desire a self-defined level of financial comfort. For some, this might mean having the ability to pay the bills and have no debt. For others, it's elaborate mansions.

The Loneliness Epidemic and What We Can Do About It

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in Feeling It
Our need to feel special may be feeding a loneliness crisis. Here's what we can do!
"Stoop Storytelling"/Leah Miller/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Why We Share Our Private Stories

By Barb Cohen on June 22, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
How do we find our place in the world? By standing up and telling the stories in which we play the starring role.

In Pursuit of Happiness: Why Pain Helps Us Feel Pleasure

By Brock Bastian Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in The Other Side
Is happiness just about the good times? Do painful experiences only make us unhappy? Here is new research on why our painful experiences are in fact necessary for happiness.

Why Flowers Make Us Happy

Flowers trigger the dopamine of excitement and the oxytocin of social trust. A wildflower hike triggers all the happy brain chemicals at once!