The Science of Happiness. Register Today
   
 

12 Steps to Happiness

By Stacey Kennelly | August 9, 2012 | 1 comment

A slideshow illustrating a dozen research-tested happiness activities you can start practicing today.

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book The How of Happiness offers readers more than a dozen everyday activities they can practice to become happier in the short and long term. Lyubomirsky compiled the list of activities after conducting and reviewing years of research about what distinguishes happy from unhappy people.

The slideshow below features some of the main activities Lyubomirsky and her colleagues have identified that make people happier. You can read the full list below the slideshow; click on the links next to some of the activities for instructions (created by Lyubomirsky’s lab) on how to practice them.

To help you decide which of these activities might be right for you, read about how Lyubomirsky and graduate student Kristin Layous have been exploring the best ways to practice some of these activities and why some of these activities may work for some people but not others.

For more on these activities, also see Jason Marsh’s article on “The Hows of Happiness” and download our “Six Habits of Happiness” poster.

Asian woman drawing

Do more activities that truly engage you

At home and at work, seek out more challenging and absorbing experiences in which you “lose yourself,” experiencing what researchers call “flow.”
left arrow
right arrow
Rose

Savor life’s joys

Pay close attention to life’s momentary pleasures and wonders through thinking, writing, or drawing, or by sharing them with others.
left arrow
right arrow
Chimps kissing

Learn to forgive

Keep a journal or write a letter in which you work on letting go of anger and resentment toward someone who has hurt or wronged you.
left arrow
right arrow
Woman giving other woman muffins

Practice acts of kindness

Do good things for others—whether friends or strangers, directly or anonymously, spontaneously or planned.
left arrow
right arrow
Grandchildren hugging grandma

Nurture relationships

Pick a relationship in need of strengthening, and invest time and energy in healing, cultivating, affirming, and enjoying it.
left arrow
right arrow
Glass half full half empty

Cultivate optimism

Keep a journal in which you imagine and write about the best possible future for yourself, or practice looking at the bright side of every situation.
left arrow
right arrow
woman with question marks above head

Avoid over-thinking and social comparison

Use strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems, and guard against comparing yourself to others.
left arrow
right arrow
Hands embracing

Develop strategies for coping

Practice ways to endure or surmount a recent stress, hardship, or trauma.
left arrow
right arrow
Family saying Grace

Count your blessings

Express gratitude for what you have—either privately, through contemplation or journaling, or to someone else—or convey your appreciation to people whom you’ve never properly thanked.
left arrow
right arrow
Man meditating in sunset

Strengthen your spiritual connections

Religious and spiritual people are happier, perhaps because of the social connections they get through their community.
left arrow
right arrow
Now not later

Commit to your goals

Pick one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devote time and effort to pursuing them.
left arrow
right arrow
Lacing up running shoes

Take care of your body

This could mean exercise, of course, but also meditating, smiling, or laughing.
left arrow
right arrow
 

 

Do more activities that truly engage you. At home and at work, seek out more challenging and absorbing experiences in which you “lose yourself,” experiencing what researchers call “flow.”

Savor life’s joys. Pay close attention to life’s momentary pleasures and wonders through thinking, writing, or drawing, or by sharing them with others. Download instructions for the “three good things” exercise—a way to help you savor the good in your life.

Learn to forgive. Keep a journal or write a letter in which you work on letting go of anger and resentment toward someone who has hurt or wronged you.

Practice acts of kindness. Do good things for others—whether friends or strangers, directly or anonymously, spontaneously or planned. Download instructions.

Nurture relationships. Pick a relationship in need of strengthening, and invest time and energy in healing, cultivating, affirming, and enjoying it.

Cultivate optimism. Keep a journal in which you imagine and write about the best possible future for yourself, or practice looking at the bright side of every situation. Download instructions.

Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. Use strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems, and guard against comparing yourself to others.

Develop strategies for coping. Practice ways to endure or surmount a recent stress, hardship, or trauma.

Count your blessings. Express gratitude for what you have—either privately, through contemplation or journaling, or to someone else—or convey your appreciation to people whom you’ve never properly thanked. Download instructions for keeping a gratitude journal and for writing a gratitude letter.

Strengthen your spiritual connections. Religious and spiritual people are happier, perhaps because of the social connections they get through their community.

Commit to your goals. Pick one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you, and devote time and effort to pursuing them. Download instructions for using your strengths to help you achieve your goals.

Take care of your body. This could mean exercise, of course, but also meditating, smiling, or laughing.

 
Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 
About The Author

Stacey Kennelly is a Greater Good editorial assistant.

  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 

Thanks for posting the slideshow, all of these are very important activities for enriching our lives with happiness and embracing joy

jenn | 9:04 pm, August 23, 2012 | Link

 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Most...

  
  • How Self-Compassion Beats Rumination

    August 20, 2014

    A new study suggests that self-compassion improves mood, largely by helping us avoid negative rumination.

  • How the Teen Brain Transforms Relationships

    August 12, 2014

    Dr. Daniel Siegel explains how changes to the adolescent brain transform relationships with peers and parents—and what adults can learn from those changes.

  • Eight Keys to End Bullying

    August 26, 2014

    Can we stop bullying? Signe Whitson says yes—by consistently reaching out to both children who bully and those who are bullied.

  

Greater Good Events

The Science of Happiness

Starts September 9, 2014 - Register Now!


The Science of Happiness

An unprecedented free online course exploring the roots of a happy, meaningful life. Co-taught by the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas. Up to 16 CE credit hours available.


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain By Sharon Begley Begley explains neuroplasticity: how experience can shape the brain’s structure—and, in turn, change the way our minds and bodies function.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.

Dr. Christine Carter's blog on the science of raising happy kids.

» READ MORE
 

Sponsors

The Quality of Life Foundation logo Special thanks to

The Quality of Life Foundation for its support of the Greater Good Science Center

 
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement