Are You Putting Off Your Happiness for Later? Here's Why You Shouldn'tNone None
We recently invited Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., psychology professor at UC Riverside and bestselling author of The How of Happiness, to share some of her strategies for living your happiest life now. See the edited version of our Facebook chat below!
Happify: Sonja, your Happify track is called "Greater Happiness Starts Now" and it's all about not putting off your happiness, but making the most of the time you have now. Why do you think people tend to put off their happiness?
Sonja Lyubomirsky: Well, we're all so busy. We're multi-tasking. We have long to-do lists. And we've been taught to focus on the future - e.g., work hard now so you can reap the benefits later. The problem is that the present is all that we are really guaranteed! We need to focus on the present too.
Happify: How do you learn to savor the small stuff and what are the benefits?
Sonja Lyubomirsky: Research has shown that there are many effective ways to savor. You can use your senses -- e.g., indulge yourself in that pastry, the smell of the roses, your favorite son. You can savor with a friend or family member - for example, reminisce about a favorite vacation or old friend. And you can try to live your life like you're about to move away (see my new track!) -- this makes you appreciate what you have and really take advantage of it. Savoring will boost your positive emotions and make you happier and more satisfied with your life in general.
Happify: The days are getting shorter. Do you have any advice on how to overcome the winter blues?
Sonja Lyubomirsky: My best advice is to write a list of all the "little things" that make you happy - that give you little bursts of joy or contentment or fun. Then do more of those things (assuming that they are not harmful to you or others). So, for example, research shows that doing little acts of kindness for others gives a huge happiness boost, so you can do more of those. Or savor playing with your kids or practicing the guitar or reading your novel.
Happify: What is something that you do every morning to start the day off on the right track towards happiness?
Sonja Lyubomirsky: I get on my stationary bike or go on a run! Though lately, my most effective morning starter has been cuddling with my youngest kids (age 2 and 4). I savor their little kid smell and the cute things they say.
Happify: What are some tips for making the most of the present and the time we have right now?
Sonja Lyubomirsky: My favorite tips come from a study we did (which inspired the Happify track), in which we asked people to imagine that they're moving far away in 4 weeks. They were asked essentially to live this next month (say it's this month - the month of October) like their "last month" here. This inspired people to do all kinds of things that they don't normally do - take that hike that they love but have been putting off for a while, get together with their buddies for drinks (which they've been too busy to do), spend quality time with their partners. This is truly savoring and it makes people really appreciate their lives and their support networks and makes them feel happier in general.
Happify: If our fans take one thing from this chat, what do you hope it is?
Sonja Lyubomirsky: I'd say it's the importance of living in the present moment. The present is all we really have. We can dwell on the past or anticipate a brighter future, but we never know what's going to happen tomorrow. So try to take advantage of the time today -- right now. Spend that quality time with your kid, your partner, your best friend. Visit your favorite restaurant, go the opera (if that's your thing), take up that exercise program you've meant to do for a while. And truly savor, luxuriate, enjoy the moment ☺.
Happify: That’s a great takeaway! Thanks for sharing.
Sonja Lyubomirsky: A pleasure to do this! Be happy, friends.
Don’t forget to check out Sonja’s Greater Happiness Starts Now track.
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