Corporate success and salaries aren't the gateways to happiness they're cracked up to be It makes sense that they would be. The director of the University of California at Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center says that we're fed an incredibly dense diet of popular media and marketing that shapes our understanding of happiness. The West has an illusion about where happiness comes from and how to get more of it.

Researchers want to sort fact from fiction when it comes to figuring out what makes people happy. We often think that some things are making us happy, but that may not be the case.

Dodging your negative emotions

Being happy is not easy to achieve. It's surely a step in the right direction to squash anger, fear, and resentment.

According to experts, the opposite is true about the pursuit of happiness. Laurie Santos is a cognitive scientist and professor of psychology at Yale University. Suppressing our negative emotions can make them worse.

Negative emotions are seen as a barrier to good health. One study suggests that bottling up emotions like disgust can make people more aggressive, while another suggests that the habit can lead to less social support. Suppressing emotions can increase the risk of early death.

Simon-Thomas says that it is better to think about happiness in a different way. It is not possible or healthy for anyone to always be happy when you scroll past smiling faces on social media.

There is a way to relate to our unpleasant emotions that is more growth- and learning oriented once we redefine what happiness means. When we feel bad, the answer isn't to berate ourselves, it's to practice self-compassion We need to know what they are for. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can be used to help people figure out how to acknowledge and cope with difficult emotions in a healthy way. People are taught to accept their emotions instead of avoiding them.

Living in a city

Frank Sinatra, Jay-Z, and other American cultural icons have talked about life in New York. It isn't good to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep.

It has been found that stress, anxiety, and unhappiness are related to living in the city. People who live in cities are 21% more likely to experience an anxiety disorder and 39% more likely to have a mood disorder like major depression. People who live in areas with lots of road noise are more likely to report depression symptoms than people who live in quiet neighborhoods. It's possible that noise can interrupt sleep, which is important for mental health. Being in the presence of high-rise buildings can cause worse moods and feelings of powerlessness, according to research.

ColinEllard, a neuroscientist at Canada's University of Waterloo who studies how natural and built places affect emotion and physiology, says that one reason why cities have these impacts is that our brains are only wired to live in small groups. In a small town, you won't pass all of them on the street during your commute. He says that living in a group of strangers is mentally and emotionally taxing. Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol can be caused by feeling crowded. It is common in cities that people struggle mentally in situations where they don't feel in control over their circumstances.

There are ways to protect your mental health if you are a city dweller. It's possible to trade a bus commute for a walk or bike ride. Investing in black-out curtains and a white-noise machine can help improve sleep quality.

Having tons of free time

It has been known for a while that having enough discretionary time is important for wellbeing.

There is a correlation between free time and wellbeing according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. After two hours, the benefits level off and decline. According to the study, if you have a lot of discretionary time, you are not necessarily happier. You feel like you don't have purpose or meaning because you don't feel like you're productive anymore.

How you spend your time is still important. People who spent more than five hours with others didn't experience a drop in well-being Some of the activities that helped participants feel like they were getting more done were exercising, participating in group activities, and studying a new language. People felt less happy when they scrolled through social media or the computer.

If you have a lot of time, consider how you spend it. Think about how to use that time in a way that makes you feel productive or meaningful.

Chasing success

We were taught from a young age that if we work hard, we will land a high paying job, get a promotion, and live happily ever after. The American dream is what it is.

Experts say checking off your accomplishments won't make you happy. Tal Ben-Shahar, co- founder of the online Happiness Studies Academy, says that the arrival fallacy is a false notion that success will lead to long- lasting happiness. He says that most people think that if you win the lottery, you will be all set. Millions of people are on the path to unhappiness, if not billions. Success only leads to a temporary spike in our levels of wellbeing.

We get fixated on the next goal almost as soon as we achieve one, ending up stuck in a cycle of not seeing what we have. Success often means more stress and less time for our families. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, professors who had been denied tenure were asked to rate their happiness, and both groups had the same score. Despite career differences, that is. When assistant professors were asked how they would be affected by achieving such a milestone, they tended to underestimate how happy they would be.

It can feel like a letdown to discover the fleeting nature of happiness. Sonja Lyubomirsky is a psychology professor at the University of California Irvine and author of The Myths of Happiness. If you change jobs, try to meet new people, learn new things, and keep your feelings of novelty alive. Schedule networking coffees with colleagues you don't know very well if you sign up for an online course in a new skill. It's possible to lift your spirits and make you feel better.


It is normal to want to blend in some of the time, to keep our heads down, and to avoid eye contact. The pursuit of anonymity isn't doing us any favors according to John Helliwell, one of the founding editors of the World Happiness Report

In the experiment, participants were asked what would happen if they lost a wallet with money in it. How likely was it that someone would return it? People who thought someone would return their wallet were happier than those who didn't. It was important for people to know that other people cared about them. If you believe that other people will return your wallet, you are more likely to return their wallet, and you are more likely to be happy.

Helliwell has a few challenges to address to foster this sense of community belonging. When you walk down the street, think of all the people who would return your wallet if you dropped it. Start a discussion. He suggests that you turn your next elevator ride into a chance to say hello to someone. It is that connection that will make both of you happy.

Buying fancy things

Money and happiness don't always go together. It does improve how happy you are if you earn a good salary. After the amount of money a person makes is taken into account, emotional well-being levels off, according to research.

MichaelNorton is a professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of Happy Money. According to research, buying stuff doesn't make us happy. People's well-being plummets as they become more materialistic.

People who spend money on experiences are more happy. Fun activities can be appreciated for what they are, not compared to someone else's experiences, which is why they are popular. Experiences don't need to be big vacations, either, as long as you go out for lunch with a friend instead.

Research shows that spending money on others can improve happiness. He says that giving pays off more than spending money on yourself. It is not like you have to do a billion dollar foundation. Do you have the money to give? It's going to be a happy day.

We'd love to hear from you at