How to Be Happy
Yale University Psychology Professor Laurie Santos teaches one of the most popular courses at her Ivy League campus — Psych 157: Psychology and the Good Life. Over the course of four months, Santos instructs her students on both the science of happiness and the practice of happiness. Santos says that circumstantial change — a raise in pay, moving to a new town, a long vacation, even a tasty snack — does not equate to real happiness. We are inclined to assume that circumstances play the largest role in our own personal happiness, but research suggests they play the smallest part. Santos points to the work of Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside. She proposes that nearly 50 percent of happiness is determined by genes (i.e., totally out of our control), 10 percent is determined by circumstance (somewhat out of our control), and the final 40 percent is determined by our thoughts, actions, and attitudes (entirely within our control).

There are certain habits that have been shown to be consistent among happy people. Happy men and women devote time to family and friends. They practice gratitude and optimism, and they are physically active. Perhaps most importantly, they savor life's pleasures and try to live in the present moment. Being time affluent, or having more free time, can also impact one’s happiness, Santos explains. Time, like money, is a commodity, but many people don’t value time and money correctly. Money is an elastic commodity, meaning one can accumulate a lot of it, but time is not. There’s only so many hours in a day. “By that reasoning,” writes the author, “an hour should be much more valuable than a dollar — yet we consistently behave as if the opposite were true.”
New York Magazine (08/18/18) Sternbergh, Adam
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