It’s the billion-dollar question: How can I be happier? Sure, 2020 has thrown some wild ones our way, but we’re about to give you some critical happiness hacks to help you hit those curveballs out of the park. Learn new ways to teach happiness and some words you’ve never heard to describe the new joy you’ll be feeling after reading today’s Daily Dose. Happy Friday!
A Harvard study that’s been in progress for more than 80 years found recently that people who are happiest focus on their social connections. And it doesn’t need to be a crowd: A few really strong partnerships are enough. While it can be difficult to prioritize face time over screen time these days, researchers recommended reaching out to people you maybe haven’t spoken to in a while in order to strengthen those fraying bonds. Another benefit: Happiness likely has health benefits. A new study found that research subjects who received psychiatric intervention that boosted their well-being also reported improved physical health.
2. Know How You Matter
One new study of happiness found that there are two kinds — one more focused on instant pleasure and gratification, like a chocolate-chip cookie or a sunny day, and the other on a sense of one’s life having meaning. Find ways to remind yourself why you matter, experts advise, whether that’s to your loved ones, in your workplace or to your community at large, in order to stay happy. Or another option: Wait. Another recent study found that optimism tends to increase steadily with age, plateauing around your mid-50s.
3. Pick Up a Pencil
Let me guess: The first thing you do in the morning is grab your phone and check your email. Don’t be ashamed: Most people do. But it’s probably not the best jumping-off point for a successful day. Instead, according to one study, you can measurably increase the feeling of success by reflecting in the morning on what you need to achieve and writing a few things down, then making a similar list at the end of the day of things you actually achieved.
4. Look at a Picture of Trees
Spending time in green space has been shown to lower anxiety. But even if you can’t get to a park, you can still reap the benefits just by looking at photos. In one study, subjects took a stressful test and then looked at photos of greenery — and their heart rates dropped as they calmed down, which didn’t happen while looking at cityscapes. The findings surprised researchers, who were expecting the calming benefits of nature to require more than just a photograph. Maybe that’s why so many teenagers this year are rejecting a socially distanced freshman year in favor of outdoor programs that keep them off Zoom and home on the range.
It makes sense that your happiness drops when you feel like others around you are getting more than you are — after all, you feel like you’re losing. But research shows that this feeling isn’t based on getting the lion’s share; it’s about equality. Happiness among participants in an experiment also dropped when they got way more than others. Perhaps that explains why countries like Iceland, with high levels of social equality, also rank highly on measures of national happiness.
Past studies on money and happiness have found that it does actually make you happier, up to about $75,000 per year. After that, it doesn’t make much difference. But new research using survey data spanning five decades in the U.S. found that the relationship between money and happiness is starting to change, and that it’s become more important to happiness as the wealth divide has grown wider.
Each year, the Moguls in the Making business plan pitch competition offers Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students an opportunity to learn and practice vital skills. Five students from Alabama A&M University won the second annual competition, which took place virtually this month, with their proposed solution to the lack of access to quality food and nutrition education in Detroit. The event gives 50 students — grouped into teams of five from 10 HBCUs — an opportunity to develop and present business plans aimed at solving key issues in the context of today’s economic and social climate. The competition is presented by Ally Financial Inc., Thurgood Marshall College Fund and entertainer and entrepreneur Big Sean’s foundation, the Sean Anderson Foundation. Winners receive scholarships and internship opportunities with Ally.
Croatians have a word for an almost meditative state of doing nothing, fjaka. If you feel suddenly exquisitely unable to do anything, like you’ve lost your sense of time and simply must lie back and do nothing, that feeling — and the acceptance of it — is fjaka (pronounced “fi-AH-kah”). Sure, you might be late. But that’s the beauty of it: You won’t care. You need this.
2. The Post-Lunch Chat
In Spain, meals are renowned for going on basically forever, and you can probably blame that at least partially on sobremesa. That’s the name for the post-meal period where you’re still sitting at the table, chatting with your friends, contemplating the universe or even just digesting. The sobremesa is when all the best discussions start.
3. Shine Theory
Not everything is about your own successes — sometimes it’s just about people you love. That’s fargin, Yiddish for the glow of pride you feel when someone else does well in life. This is a good one to know if you’re serious about strengthening all those relationships we talked about earlier.
4. Happiness at the Office
Denmark was ranked as the second happiest country in the world this year, and we know their happiness concepts, like hygge, have caught on around the world. So maybe we should try another Danish happiness term: arbejdsglæde, which means happiness in your work. Wake up every morning happy about the projects ahead of you? You’re already there.
5. Cozy as Heck
We don’t always think of German as a warm fuzzy language. But gemütlichkeit is definitely a warm and fuzzy word: It’s a condition of warm friendliness, an atmosphere of welcome that’s made it a popular word among restaurants trying to lure in customers. As winter arrives, you may want to concentrate on cultivating the gemütlichkeit at home.
Being stuck at home doesn’t mean your life gets put on hold. Luckily, you don’t have to wait any longer to start planning your family. Modern Fertility’s hormone test measures the same hormones they would at a fertility clinic for only a fraction of the cost. Get the test now for $15 off and find out everything you need to know about your fertility.
Actress, activist and model Jameela Jamil joins Carlos and claps back at her haters — she doesn’t give a “flying f***” what you think about her. The outspoken The Good Place star discusses why COVID has given her hope, her activism and the unique relationship she has with Meghan Markle. What’s her surprising opinion about AOC? Watch now for more.
A new program implemented in Delhi schools — and thus the new normal for over a million kids — puts the focus on happiness and mindfulness, with meditation classes and stress-busting skills aimed at preparing children for adulthood psychologically as well as educationally. And as these lessons, lauded by first lady Melania Trump, brighten the educational perspectives of the sprawling city’s students, other nations from Nepal to Colombia are hoping to jump on the bandwagon.
Sociologist Ashley Frawley has made her career on the idea that asking about happiness isn’t very useful as a metric for countries to measure their worth. Instead, she says, people should be allowed to feel bad if their lives are hard, and not pressured into mindfulness movements that redirect responsibility for personal happiness onto the individual when the responsibility may lie with the collective.
From March 2018 to March 2019, more than half a million people signed up for Yale’s class The Science of Well-Being, making it the most popular class Yale has ever offered. Under pandemic lockdowns, it really exploded, and now that it’s offered online for free, more than 3 million people enrolled to learn from psychology professor Laurie Santos. The course not only delves into the research behind happiness, but offers a series of personal exercises designed to increase happiness in individual participants.
4. Join the Happiness Club
The World Happiness Summit (#WOHASU to its fans) has become a giant comic-con for those obsessed with happiness, a place for inventors whose gadgets promise bliss, for consciousness-raising advocates and speakers whose secrets to happiness can finally be learned one after the other over a multiday event. You might not learn the secret to happiness, but you’ll probably feel better when you leave.
5. The Most Gleeful Tourist Destination
Forget Disneyland. This is the happiest place on Earth: London’s Museum of Happiness is an interactive organization that hosts classes and workshops designed to boost the joy in your life. They also train people to teach happiness and design happiness-boosting programs for workplaces. On the other side of the pond, you can check out San Francisco’s Museum of Joy.