Attention all: The key to absolute happiness has been uncovered and — surprise! — it’s on the internet (sort of). No, the key cannot be found on social media, nor will you discover it while spiraling down a rabbit hole of YouTube streams. The answer to how to live a happier life, and what happiness truly means, can be found in Happify's aesthetically pleasing and incredibly cohesive chart called "The Science of Happiness." Pretty straightforward, don't you think?
Before diving into the actual guide, allow me to introduce you to the quirky app aiming to improve the lives of others through science-based gaming and activities. Happify’s mission is to strengthen people’s happiness and reduce any stressful/negative mojo they may be experiencing through an interactive, 21st-century approach. You can download the app to your smartphone and choose from a variety of different games that help to improve your mood. To them, happiness isn't just something you feel, it's something you do, something you have, and something we're all capable of experiencing every single day.
First, "The Science of Happiness" chart breaks down what happiness is, and what it’s not.
On a larger scale, happiness is subjective. For example, I love to read and write; I get a delicious sense of satisfaction when I learn new vocabulary or finish a good book. My husband, on the other hand, finds pleasure programming code for hours at a time — different strokes for different folks, right? But Happify points out that true happiness isn’t just found in hobbies; it’s also about how satisfied you are with life in general, and how good you feel on a daily basis.
It turns out, according to Happify's infographic, 50 percent of your happiness is actually biologically determined, while 40 percent “is controlled by your thoughts, actions, and behaviors,” and only 10 percent is a result of circumstance. In other words, spilling coffee on yourself sucks, but it’s how you perceive it and choose to approach the situation that will determine your mood for the rest of the day. You can choose to have a fit and sulk for the next eight hours, or you can dab the stain with a napkin and shrug it off.
Happiness isn’t a tangible thing; it’s not a kind of necklace you can string around your neck as a sign of immunity from negative thoughts and people, and it’s not a plastic card with an unlimited line of credit endowed to your name. Happiness is a state of contentment — a skill that, Happify reminds us, can improve “with consistent practice.”
Your happiness can drastically improve if you can make it a point to appreciate the little things in life.
I know myself, and it’s very easy for me to start obsessing over the future and lose focus on what matters in the here and now. Family ties and close friendships are often taken for granted, and when you’re concentrating on, say, the dream job rather than the work you’re doing to learn the ropes and improve, you end up missing out on enriching experiences.
To put it into perspective, think about how you feel when you’re forced to attend an early lecture, or you're clocking in at work on a Monday morning. Do you begrudgingly sit at your desk and fantasize about the weekend before the actual week even has a chance to start? The majority of our lives is made up of weekdays, yet we psychologically rush our time because for some reason, we can’t possibly fathom feeling the exhilarating relief of the Friday feels on a Tuesday afternoon. But what if we could feel those Friday vibes on a Tuesday?
Happify's philosophy here suggests that, by taking the time to actually savor the moment and live mindfully, rather than anxiously wait for the next best thing, you can truly feel happier day to day. By utilizing all five senses, bonding with the people around you, and living in the moment, savoring everyday experiences will make you a happier, grateful, more hopeful person.
Happiness comes from a positive relationship with others and, most importantly, with yourself.
Have you noticed that social media makes it stunningly easy for us to live our lives through someone else’s feed? We rely on Pinterest boards and Instagram influencers to tell us what’ cool, what we "should" be eating, how we "should" be exercising, even what clothes to wear. And then there’s the issue of dependence on others IRL, leaning on our SOs to make us happy, or our bosses to give us a pat on the back when we succeed.
There’s nothing wrong with looking to others as an example, or wanting our hard work to be acknowledged BTW, but self-acceptance has to come first, and you can achieve this through healthy habits like meditation, self-pampering, making a point not to compare yourself to others on social media, pursuing your goals, and just generally being kind to yourself.
Once you've established a healthy, happy relationship with yourself, it becomes that much easier to apply these types of behaviors to your relationships with others. Even something as simple as making time for friends in your busy schedule can improve your overall happiness.
According to Happify, people are 12 times more likely to feel less stressed when they spend about six to seven hours at a time with friends or family. Of course, you can't always squeeze in that much time with loved ones because, let's be honest, life gets busy. But even making it a point to reminisce on happy memories or send a quick text or email just to say hi works too, and it's been proven to brighten your mood, as well.
Personally, I think this chart is something everyone, but millennials especially, could benefit from reviewing on a daily, or weekly basis. Happiness is something we take for granted and, too often, it's viewed as something to be achieved. Happiness is an emotion, but it's also a verb; it's something we can learn to achieve every day rather than some day.