Get Serious About Happiness

Applying the ‘Science of Happiness’ in the New Year

Many people dismiss happiness as a flaky, illusive concept. But not Dacher Keltner, Phd, a University of California Berkeley professor who has spent a career researching happiness. For the past decade he’s even taught an undergraduate course titled “the science of happiness.” His message: everyone can cultivate more happiness in their lives and whatever effort it takes is absolutely worth it.
“When you take happiness seriously and do the deep inquiry, think hard about what gives you meaning and cultivate that in your life and relationships, it’s beneficial in every way imaginable,” he explains. For example, research suggests that happier people are healthier, more content, more effective parents and better at their jobs. Simply put, there’s no downside to cultivating a happier life.
Alas, though, a happy life means many different things to different people, depending on culture, class, religion and even genetic makeup. “Most people find that maybe four or five different strategies really work to cultivate more happiness in their lives,” says Dr. Keltner. “It’s a very individual process.” For Dr. Keltner, spending time outdoors, hugging and touching his family and pets and playing with his kids give him more happiness. Despite a hectic schedule, he makes time for those activities each day. “For others, it might be singing music, going to church, meditating or whatever.”
Ready to find out what makes you happy and put more of that in your life? Here are a few places to start your journey:
*Explore cutting edge happiness research and practical tips on how to lead a happier life at The Greater Good Science Center’s website.
*Check out these Ted Talks about happiness and fulfilment.
*Get reading. Great books about happiness, forgiveness and fulfilment include: The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman, The Sweet Spot by Christine Carter, and Rising Strong by Brene Brown.
*Sign up here for the free online version of the Science of Happiness course offered to the public by Dr. Keltner and colleague Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Phd. This is a self-paced course exploring the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Open to anyone around the world!

Victoria Clayton is a Southern California-based writer who has contributed to, The Los Angeles Times, Redbook, Self and many other publications. She was a health and parenting columnist for  She’s a wife, mom, small business owner, intrepid cook and yoga lover.

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