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How to make yourself happier by lifestyle choices

boy-girlThe World Happiness Database in Rotterdam has collated data from around the world to see which paths in life lead to happiness.  It doesn’t seem to be goal-directed, because Prof Ruut Veenhoven reports a slight negative correlation in which those who list goals as important are less happy than those who do not.  This could be because they have not yet attained their goals and feel discontented accordingly.  Leading an active life and being involved in things does correlate strongly with happiness, however.

What’s the secret? The study suggests things like being in a long-term relationship, being active in politics and being active in work and leisure time. Going out to dinner is included, as is moderate drinking, but having children seems to lower happiness levels until they move out. Commuting seems to go with unhappiness if it involves over an hour’s travel. Men in particular are happier if they think they are good looking, as opposed to actually being thought so by others. It’s mostly predictable and rather pedestrian stuff, in that we would all guess that “having close friendships” would lead to a happier life.

I actually practise doing things that make me happier. I maintain contact with friends, and invite them out if too long an interval has passed since we last met. Since I retain memories of unpleasant or upsetting things, I try to avoid them entering my mind in the fist place. I practise devaluation and substitution for unobtainable things, but generally attain happiness by actually achieving the things I want to do.

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One Response

  1. Interesting. I think in summary that sounds like:

    Passive: avoid things that cause you stress; avoid people who cause you stress.

    Active: do things that reduces stress in you; do things that reduces stress in other people.

    Having goals is probably setting yourself up to fail; you either have to “make sacrifices” to achieve your goals, or tread on other people which doesn’t make them happy either.

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