I'll Be Happy When...

No you won't. You may get a brief warm fuzzy feeling, but you won't experience long term, true happiness.

Why? Because happiness that is based upon having to own or achieve something is faux happiness at best. The postponement of happiness until later is the denial of happiness now.

So, reverse the order. Instead of positing that achievement will bring happiness, how about assuming that happiness might indeed create more success? In other words, isn't it entirely possible that you will produce better results, attract better people, and generally have a higher quality life if you claim your inherent happiness now?

Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage sure thinks so. And he offers these five simple practices to help jump start your happiness:

1) Meditate for a short time (as little as two minutes) everyday.
2) Write down three things a day for which you are grateful.
3) Send a positive, supportive email to someone first thing each day.
4) Exercise for 30 minutes a day.
5) Write for two minutes a day describing a positive experience you had in the last 24 hours.

Practice one, or more, of these happiness habits for 30 days, and watch your overall happiness soar. You may or may not get that new job, new relationship, or new car you've been desiring, but you will surely get a new perspective on life.

Happiness Begins Within

In all my research on happiness one thing has become readily apparent: You don't find true happiness by chasing after happiness. That may sound strange coming from me. Afterall, am I not the guy who's always encouraging you to do this, that, or the other thing in order to live a happier life?

Yep, all those little things add up. Eating meals with those you loves really does provide you with a happiness boost. As does participating in activities that put you in the flow state, put you in the groove. As does expressing gratitude, both to others and to the Universe. We could go on and on.

But in the final analysis, it's not that these external actions or things "make" you happy, it's more that they help you tap into the intrinsic happiness that is always, already there inside of you. Happiness is first and foremost about being rather than doing or having.

So, the short path to happiness is to sit down, shut up, and go within. Call it meditation, contemplation, centering prayer, or just sitting. It is the primary practice of the truly happy. It is the most direct route to your cosmic happy place. It is the simplest way for you to come home to you. And only by being the real you can you be really happy.

To Be Happy Be Kind

Want to be happy? Be kind to others. It's as simple as that.

Researchers at NYU report in the spring issue of The Journal of Happiness Studies (yes, there really is such a publication!) that doing good deeds, or just generally being supportive of others, for as little as 15 minutes a day can make you happier. And get this -- the effects can be felt up to six months after you do these small acts!

Not only will you be happier, your self-esteem will be higher, as well. You'll get what's sometimes referred to as "a helper's high." And this high is free. No shady drug deals in dirty alleys, no illegal drugs need to enter your system, and no money changes hands.

Just be kind. It's the simple path to happiness.

The Strongest Predictor of Happiness

If you just had more money, more time, more recognition, a better job, a nicer house, a chance to retire early, or a million and one other things, you'd be happy, right?


You see real, long term happiness is not found in things, or even in achievements. Writing in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, researchers Maya Tamir of Hebrew University, June Gruber of Yale, and Iris Mauss of the University of Denver state that the strongest predictor of happiness is not money or success but having "meaningful social relationships."

What makes a relationship "meaningful" is up to you to decide, but for most people it means that it transcends small talk, that is it is a relationship in which both people find acceptance, openness, shared interests, and more. But in fact, both the quantity and quality of these relationships matter. In other studies, on the whole, extroverts are found to be happier than introverts, in a large part because they have more friends.

So forget about winning the Nobel Prize in Commercial Real Estate. Don't worry so much which direction the friggin' stock market goes. Instead, make more friends. And deepen your relationships with the friends you have. People, not things, are what bring more happines into our lives. And people, thank God (and poor family planning), are everywhere!

Do What You Love

"Do what you love and the money will follow," says author Marsha Sinetar. A few million starving artists and struggling musicians might dispute her on that. However, one thing is true -- whether you're paid to do it or not, if you do what you love happiness will ensue. You won't even have to wait for it to follow; it will blossom right in the midst of the loving act itself!

It's so simple that it seems almost ridiculous to speak about it. But maybe its very simplicity makes it easy to miss. People piss and moan and complain all the time about their lives not being what they want them to be, when all they have to do is more of what they love, and they will be happy.

Like visiting with friends, visit (or make) more friends. Like swimming? Find a place to swim and jump in. Like reading, go to the library. Like cooking? Get creative with whatever you have in your refrigerator and cupboard.

There's no excuse for not doing at least one thing you love everyday. With practice, you will find the time to do more than one thing. Get really good at it, and you'll quit doing all that crap you don't love to do and make your life one big love fest! Happily in love with everything you do. What could be better than that?

Get Off the Hedonic Treadmill!

"The what?" you say. The hedonic treadmill. That's what research scientists call it when we relentlessly pursue pleasure. And the problem is that the hedonic treadmill, just like its physical counterpart at the gym, will sooner or later just wear you out!

You see, though pleasure is many times a component of your happiness, the over-pursuit of it is indeed detrimental to your happiness. Try too hard to find pleasure, and the result is stress, not joy.

So take your pleasure as it comes. Your life in its natural state provides you with plenty of opportunities. No need to go to extremes, to chase pleasure to the end of the Earth, or follow it down every dark alleyway.

Learn to enjoy the subtle pleasures that a sunrise, a smile, a fresh strawberry, a job well done can bring. Jump off that sweaty old treadmill and go outside for stroll around your neighborhood. Pleasure abounds. Happiness blossoms. Life is good.

Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Want to be happy right here, right now without having to change a single thing? Simply look at your world through grateful eyes. No matter what your current life situation, I'm sure you have many things to be grateful for. The problem is these good things get covered up by our focusing upon the things we don't particularly like. And so, gratitude goes out the window and is replaced by discontent.

Simply shift your focus away from what you don't like and on to what you do. In any given moment there are hundreds of things you can be grateful for -- your friends, your health, your talents, hobbies, sense of humor, favorite possessions -- and the list goes on & on.

As has been said, in one form or another, by nearly every true spiritual teacher from the Buddha on -- what you think about expands. Think about what you like about your life and the liking of your life grows. Gratitude induces more gratitude, and magically enough, even more good things for which to be grateful.

Happiness then increases not because you've gone out and accomplished, achieved, or changed anything. Happiness ensues because you begin to appreciate what's been here all along.

Gratitude fosters happiness. It's as simple as that.