Happiness: It’s not all about being carefree. Sometimes it’s about contemplating death, or throwing your phone off a cliff—for a little while, so you can notice the people around you. It’s also not about pouring over articles on happiness all day—especially on Fridays. For that, the London School of Life has turned hours of thoughts into a 60-second film on what we know so far about satisfaction.
9 Secrets of Happiness
- Stop being so hopeful. Expect that most things are going to go wrong: Marriage jobs holidays kids. Look at the glass half empty and then feel grateful whenever things aren’t an outright catastrophe.
- Stop ranting about how awful other people are. Most annoying people aren’t evil they’re just anxious or sad. Forgive them they didn’t set out to hurt you, they’re just under a lot of pressure.
- Think of death a lot. Keep a skull on your table. You probably only have about 400,000 hours left.
- Laugh at yourself. Stop thinking of yourself as a stupid idiot. You’re something far nicer: a lovable fool.
- Make regular appointments to talk with someone you don’t spend enough time with: you. Ask yourself what you really want and are anxious about.
- Stop trying to make yourself happy. It’s impossible. Concentrate on cheering up other people.
- Look at yourself as if from the ISS, 240 miles above the earth. From this height lots of things that are bothering you look the size they should always have been .
- Throw your phone off a cliff for a bit so you can finally notice stuff, especially your partner and your mom.
- Give up on the idea that you should be normal. The only normal people are people you don’t know yet. Everyone is weird and that’s totally okay.
One of our favorite discoveries on the new science of happiness? “Happiness is an equal opportunity emotion, as available to grouches and worriers as it is to the innately cheerful,” Barbara Graham writes in the June 2015 issue of Mindful magazine.
Graham looks into how researchers are re-defining happiness beyond a simple connotation of pleasure:
That’s why some researchers, such as University of Illinois happiness pioneer and psychology professor Ed Diener, have dropped the word altogether. Diener prefers “subjective well-being” as a more accurate way to describe an individual’s degree of life satisfaction. Martin Seligman, the godfather of Positive Psychology and author, most recently, of Flourish, has also shifted his focus from happiness to well-being, which he deconstructs into five essential elements: positive emotion, engagement in life, meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishment. Other psychologists have teased happiness into two components: eudaimonic happiness, the well-being that arises from a sense of purpose or service to others; and hedonic happiness, which comes from enjoying a good meal, making love, or other passing pleasures. And though both types of happiness are essential to a balanced, contented life, a recent study conducted by Barbara Frederickson at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Steven Cole of the UCLA School of Medicine found that blood samples of people with high levels of eudaimonic happiness demonstrated a better immune response profile than those with high levels of hedonic happiness.
Regardless of how we define it—eudaimonia or hedonia, well-being or subjective well-being—it’s striking to discover that after correcting for our genetic inheritance and life circumstances, we’re each left with the capacity to control about 40% of our individual happiness.
Read the full article, “What is Happiness, Anyway?”