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Happy International Day of Happiness!

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | March 20, 2015

Today is the International Day of Happiness, launched last year by the United Nations to promote subjective well-being as a legitimate goal of public policy and social progress.

That’s a goal we share at the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, and through the years we’ve covered happiness research from every conceivable angle. Here are some highlights — the most interesting, provocative, or helpful pieces we’ve published on the science of happiness.

What is happiness anyway?

Many scientists use happiness interchangeably with “subjective well-being,” which they measure by simply asking people to report how satisfied they feel with their own lives and how much positive and negative emotion they’re experiencing. UC Riverside researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky describes happiness more precisely as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

What are the benefits of happiness?

In addition to making us feel good, studies have found that happiness actually improves other aspects of our lives, as well as the lives of the people around us.

Can you cultivate happiness?

Happiness doesn’t just happen. Based on her research, Lyubomirsky has concluded that roughly 50 percent of happiness is determined by our genes and 10 percent by our life circumstance, but 40 percent depends on our daily activities. Here are steps you can take to boost your happiness.

Download our “6 Habits of Happiness” poster.

Fostering happiness at home and in the world

Can you help the people around you become happier? You bet! Here are some insights and ideas.

What are the problems with happiness?

Happiness isn’t all flowers and sunshine. Research suggests that it’s possible to be too happy or to embrace false beliefs about what will make you happy. There are many forces that can undermine happiness, no matter what steps you take to cultivate it within yourself.

Comments to “Happy International Day of Happiness!

  1. A very true thought by Stacey Kennelly: “happiness is all about respect, not riches.” It is not guaranteed that today’s happy person will be happy tomorrow also. Money can’t buy the happiness. Happiness is not about all flowers and sunshine. So to be happy we must have positive thought on our mind.

  2. Good question. Happiness is not a recipe, an exact solution where a + b = happiness. Everyone understands different happiness, often based on previous experience. This feeling must be cultivated.

  3. Happiness varies greatly among the countries of the world.

    How could/would Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center advise the bottom 10 countries of the world to improve their levels of happiness?

    And note that some very poor countries are in the top 10, so money is not necessarily the automatic solution for the countries at the bottom.

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