Boost Your Happiness Using These 6 Expert Tips

With everything going on in the world, researchers are seeing the lowest levels of joy since the 1950s. The truth is, true happiness is less likely to be a perpetual state of bliss and more likely to feel like a continual quest to find examples of meaning and beauty in the world – despite all of life’s difficulties. Fortunately, we can help you in this quest: from our experts, here are six simple and lasting ways to successfully boost your happiness.

Acknowledge all the feelings

One of the biggest misconceptions about happiness is that we should feel it all the time, says Laurie Santos, PhD, cognitive scientist and professor of psychology at Yale University. “But a happy life is about pursuing a goal – and that often means feeling negative emotions, like sadness and frustration, because they help us learn.” Simply accepting that happiness isn’t a stable state—and it shouldn’t be—allows you to take a step back. “Listening to our negative emotions, instead of pretending they don’t exist, is what opens us up to greater joy.”

Foil “if only”

The tendency to believe that we will finally be satisfied once we have achieved a certain goal is called the “arrival fallacy,” Santos reveals. “But research shows that for most of us, happiness doesn’t come from a change in our circumstances.” So what Is get up? “Studies show that being ‘other-oriented’, helping people in small ways, makes us happier than expected.”

Go on a treasure hunt

The things that used to make us happy often fade over time because we get used to them, says expert Loretta Breuning, PhD, author of Habits of a happy brain and founder of the Inner Mammal Institute. “That’s why we have to keep exploring,” she insists. “For example, I love to do ‘treasure hunts’ by walking around new neighborhoods – just discovering a tree that I’ve never seen before gives me a boost. Just letting yourself wander without a plan exposes you to unexpected new joys.

Put a twist on gratitude

“Unlike a gratitude practice, where I keep the ‘gratitudes’ to myself, I decided to text my husband my ‘best moments’ at the end of each day,” says Michelle Gielan, who is the author of Spread happiness and researcher at the Institute for Applied Positive Research. “The goal is three highlights, and they’re always small, like something delicious we ate or the fact that I was able to catch up with a friend.” The lists are like a roadmap to joy, she says. “At the end of the year, I’m going to collect the entries and make a ‘highlights of 2022’ book.” Sharing your list will lift your heart and that of another.

Sprinkle rewards

Do you remember your last vacation? In the meantime, it was probably as great as the trip itself. “That’s because ‘happy’ brain chemicals are released when we anticipate a reward,” says Breuning. “Sprinkle your day with little joys. For example, I’ll watch 10 minutes of a movie, then go back to a chore; just thinking about going back to the movie gives me a boost.

Enjoy deeper connections

Arguably, the thing that makes us happiest is connecting with others. “But don’t just talk about the weather – ask someone what they are most grateful for or what they would miss the most if they had to move,” Santos says. “While we tend to think conversations like this will be awkward, they actually bring us closer.” When we see others – and feel seen – we are happier in the long run.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.