Thanks to happiness research, we actually know a lot about exactly how to be happy. And it's easier than you might think!
- Step 1: Live in an area where the standard of living is on par with yours. A study found that people who are surrounded by higher-earning neighbors are far less happy than those who live among their peers.
- Step 2: Now that you've followed these tips, stop thinking so much about whether you're really happy, why you're not happy, or how to be happier: Studies show that people who place a high emphasis on happiness have, on average, 17 more symptoms of depression than those who don't give it a thought. It's like the song says: Don't worry, be happy.
- FACT: People in colder climates tend to be happier, according to the World Database of Happiness.
- TIP: In general, men are happier experiencing art, while women are happier creating it.
- Step 3: Embrace the arts. Go to a museum or concert, pick up a paintbrush, or learn a musical instrument. A large-scale study found a strong link between participating in cultural activities and happiness.
- TIP: Consider joining a book club -- people who do a lot of socializing tend to be happier, too.
- Step 4: Forget about checking in with your 2,000 social-networking pals and hang out with one really good friend instead. What you do together isn't important -- it's the companionship that helps you feel happier.
- Step 5: Stay busy. Studies show that while people may think they'd be happy with more free time, busy people are happier than folks with too much time on their hands.
- Step 6: Read more. Researchers have found that avid readers are happier than people who watch a lot of television. And it doesn't matter what you read: Books with sad subjects work just as well as those with happy themes.