The secret to happiness during a miserable 2020 lies in science
All right. So just gave me the short answer. How does happiness work? So there are a lot of misconceptions about happiness. We tend to think that if we find the perfect job a relationship or make a lot of money that's going to be what makes us happy. But really the science shows that are circumstances like how healthy we are what job. We have actually don't matter all that much when it comes to our happiness and real happiness doesn't mean that you never feel a negative emotion because of course, you're going to face problems in loss in your life but really happiness means accepting negative emotions and having skills to manage and cope with them and use them to make better decisions. Later, riots, there's no the idea that there's a silver bullet that guarantees happiness. That is just a complete fallacy, right? Exactly. All. Right. So you looked into this and There are a couple of things that you you brought up. There's this term that you have in your store that the the malleability of happiness if you sort of dig into that a little bit more, what does that mean? Yes Oh, there's another misconception that we tend to have about happiness, which is this idea that it's just built into our personality in you can't control how happy are but researchers have found that this really isn't true. Either and there's one popular theory that says that about fifty percent of our happiness is determined by genes, ten percent life circumstances, and then forty percent by our daily activities. So that might not be the actual breakdown there some controversy there but it does get into this idea that's pretty widely accepted, which is that at least some of your happiness is within your control and you can do things each day to change how happy you are. That's that is good to know especially after this year. It's very interesting this breakdown and then you had a couple of references to. Things like. The be able to measure you know five being five percents happier from a scientific perspective. How do you measure happiness cause? It feels so subjective, right? They're definitely different ways. The different researchers do it. There was one class at the University of California Berkeley called the science of happiness and they were measuring students, self reported levels of things like sadness, stress, loneliness anger but then also things like amusement enthusiasm, affection, sense of community and kind of taking all of those together to form why happiness based on all different facets. Got It so. Talk about the guidelines for chiefly happiness because you've got a breakdown of some. You know some really relatively easy to follow tips to to chief more happiness especially this year definitely, the biggest factor affecting happiness this year any year, all the time across multiple studies is social connection. One big study called Harvard Study of adult development found that close relationships with spouses family friends community members was the biggest thing keeping people happy throughout their lives and also physically mentally healthier at makes sense since you know we've we've largely been disconnected from most of our friends and founders share like how do you in the in the midst of in the context of this global pandemic in? Fact that we really can't each other how how do how does someone? Achieve that happiness. In, this kind of altered reality that we live in, it's a question, but it's definitely still possible. The researchers told me it's more about being intentional about reaching out to people and spending time with them. In the way you can, which might be a zoom call or phone call or taking a socially distanced walk but it's about knowing that those people are in your life and the quality of those relationships, which is something that you can keep up over long distances and I think that's really good advice because too often were were kind of stuck in our own world. I know I'm. Mike Media family are stuck in this apartment and there's almost a bunker mentality given all the things happened this year. So it's a it's a good reminder go out there and actually engage with people three of which what are some of the other. Tips or things we should be doing to spy or happiness. Another thing you can do on a daily basis is random acts of kindness, and that could be for people in your home in your family or stranger on the street or coworker on a video chat. Just doing something that will make someone else's Day a little bit brighter ends up giving you a psychological benefit in return knowing that you helped make someone happier and the biggest thing there is to kind of vary what you do. So maybe you make your roommate coffee one day maybe you compliment someone's NASC at the grocery store the next day too small things like that. Actually have big benefits for us to one of the other big things is learning to express gratitude, which as you say, can't feel Kinda hard to do in these times but just the simple act of writing down three things at the end of every day and reflecting on them that made. You happier that you're proud of that day, which can be something really small like had a good chat with my friend or Finished project that has been shown to have a lot of psychological benefits and just making you remember that there are good things in your life. A couple of the other things are practicing mindfulness, which I know you hear about a lot meditation apps and all of those things but they really do have a benefit for helping you kind of recognize emotions in. Let them go finally. The biggest thing is just really learning how to practice self compassion as well. One of the researchers told me that especially in the US. In the West we kind of very part on ourselves in self critical and when we do face a setback, we kind of beat ourselves up about it but one way to do that when you do face a hard time to kind of think about yourself as if you were talking to a friend if your friend lost their job, he wouldn't say, wow, you really suck and. Better luck next time. You'd be like, Oh, well, you know that was just one time and things are going to get better for you and just thinking of things more that way have some compassion for yourself.