Increasing Your Happiness and Well-being

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By Erin Pittman

Given what we’ve all been through the past couple of years, we could all stand to have a little more happiness in our lives. But is it possible to intentionally increase our happiness? A number of experts
believe it is, including professors at Yale University. Want to tap into that well? Read on for a few options to
improve your own life satisfaction and well-being.

Learn “The Science of Well-being”

You too can learn like a Yale University student and take their most popular course — online and for FREE. Professor Laurie Santos only taught the course “The Science of Well-being” once in person in 2018. It filled up remarkably fast and was a hit — so much so that it’s now available online for everyone to access. Since then, it’s been taken by hundreds of thousands of online learners, and you could be the next.

The self-paced course is available on Coursera.com and takes approximately 10 weeks to complete. You’ll take baseline assessments to gauge your current level of happiness and retake the surveys at the end to compare your results. Throughout the course you’ll watch video lectures, read informative articles, track your sleep patterns, perform random acts of kindness, keep a gratitude journal (either on paper or in their companion app), and, in general, note how over time these behaviors affect your overall mood.

Is it in fact possible to intentionally improve your happiness and well-being? According to two recent studies, the answer is yes. In a study published in PLOS ONE journal, researchers at Johns Hopkins and Yale Universities found that students who took “The Science of Well-being” course did indeed report a higher
sense of well-being than those enrolled in another class at Yale, “Introduction to Psychology.” Authors of the study noted the key difference with this course being the actual life work done during the class.

Learn more or start your own journey to increased well-being by visiting Santos’ website.

Read Your Way to Improved Happiness

Is reading your favorite pastime? How about a book intended to improve your happiness and satisfaction with life? Here are a few recommendations to power your positive thoughts:

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun – Gretchen Rubin

Rubin spent a year diving deep into what actually adds happiness to life. Chapters are separated by months and each month has a topic with goals. Her style is relatable and filled with humor as she makes her way through the year.

The Art of Happiness – Dalai Lama

This book is based on psychiatrist Cutter’s interviews with the Dalai Lama. Quotations are filled with suggestions of reducing our hold on material goods, embracing empathy, and achieving happiness through the “systematical training of our hearts and minds.” Soak in the wisdom of the Dalai Lama and put it into
practice in your own life.

You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type – Daniel G. Amen

This book boasts seven neuroscience secrets to boost your happiness by 30% in 30 days. “After studying more than 200,000 brain scans of people from 155 countries, Dr. Amen has discovered five primary brain types and seven neuroscience secrets that influence happiness.” In this book, he describes them and offers strategies for implementing them.

Focus on Your Mindset

Those with a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset tend to report greater happiness. What’s the difference? A growth mindset means you believe your intelligence and abilities can develop and increase over time. A fixed mindset says you get what you get and you cannot change it, so if you’re currently not
good at something, that’s the way it’s going to be. Get happier by changing your mindset to a growth outlook.

Try a course from LinkedIn Learning like “Cultivating a Growth Mindset” or “Leading with a Growth Mindset.” Udemy.com also offers courses on the topic such as “Growth Mindset: The Key to Confidence, Impact and Fulfillment” and “Growth Mindset: The Complete Guide.”

For a full education on the topic, pick up expert author Carol Dweck’s book Mindset.

However you choose to learn and grow, may your well-being and happiness continue to blossom.

Erin Pittman is Editor in Chief of Prince William Living. She’s a lover of books, dogs, sunshine, and lifelong learning. Reach her at epittman@princewilliamliving.com.

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