I was at a conference where I had the good fortune to hear Catherine Sanderson speak on The Science of Happiness. Sanderson is a professor at Amherst College where she studies and teaches the subject of happiness. Her speech was fantastic. Here are some of my takeaways:

Why do we care about happiness? Happy people are:

  • more helpful
  • less hostile
  • more productive
  • experience better health

What do we think makes us happy (but really doesn’t)?

  • money
  • climate
  • life events (They might help us to be happy when they happen, but it doesn’t last.)

What makes us happy?

  • eating
  • exercising
  • shopping for others
  • time in nature
  • high self-esteem
  • optimism
  • age
  • quality relationships

Some people always find silver linings and seem to always be happy. Genetics has about a 50% impact on our happiness. But that means we control 50%. We have to decide we want to be happy; that we deserve to be happy – and structure our lives in a way to be happy.

Top ten strategies for increasing happiness:

  • change your behavior: get enough sleep, exercise, spend time outside, meditate
  • love what you do, personally and professionally
  • read a book you love
  • keep a gratitude journal (instead of going to bed at night thinking about the next day’s todos)
  • make a gratitude visit
  • smile, even when you aren’t happy (I have written about this many times.)
  • perform random acts of kindness: volunteer, donate to charity, give a gift (to anyone)
  • spend money on the right things: experiences, not belongings
  • build and maintain close relationships (The quality of relationships is the single best predictor of our happiness.)

What do you do to help your happiness? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,