Four years ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 20 to be the International Day of Happiness. It’s easy to understand why they see happiness as something to celebrate: Happy people are healthier; they get sick less often and live longer. Happy people are more likely to get married and have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends. They make more money and are more productive at work. Based on decades of research, it has become clear that happiness is not just a personal issue; it’s a matter of public health, global economics, and national well-being.
But it doesn’t come easy, as most of us know. Disappointments and annoyances grab our attention like gnats, and even the good things in life seem to lose their luster over time. Add to that a crammed schedule and mounting obligations, and happiness might just seem out of reach—achievable for other people, perhaps, but not us.
Fortunately, research suggests that happiness is something we can cultivate with practice. The Greater Good Science Center has collected many happiness practices on our website Greater Good in Action, alongside other research-based exercises for fostering kindness, connection, and resilience. Below are ... five broader strategies for a more fulfilling life.
1. Acknowledge the good
2. Add happiness through subtraction
3. Find meaning and purpose
4. Use your strengths
5. Connect with others