A Harvard expert tells us what to do to be happy (from the TV show 60 Minutes):
Simplify - do less rather than more.
Exercise - 3x a week for 30 minutes has the same effect as our most powerful psychiatric drugs.
Express your emotions.
Appreciate what you have (express gratitude; appreciate the good in your life and it grows, or appreciates)
His definition of happiness: doing something that has meaning and gives pleasure.
He also talks about why Americans are less happy than other citizens of free countries. He says we try to do too much. His analogy: if you listen to your favorite piece of music, you rate it a ten. Then listen to your second favorite - also a ten. But if you listen to them both together, you don't rate the result a twenty, or even a ten. You get noise. Americans spend too much time trying to do too many things at once, so they don't enjoy each thing they are doing. They try to answer their email or talk on the phone while interacting with their children, and then they don't enjoy their children as much.
In sum, be present for what is in front of you. You'll enjoy it all more, and you'll be happier.
These rules are all in the cancer patient playbook for surviving and thriving despite our diagnoses. Don't wait to get a terrible disease to start living like this.
My friend Alison alerted me to this blog about being happy some time ago; she mentioned it again yesterday: The Happiness Project. Alison says she learns a great deal from following that blog, and Alison is one of the smartest people I know...