Psychology and the Good Life: 7 lessons from Yale’s most popular class

So what does make us happy? The Yale professor studied tons of happy people to find out what works. And certain habits showed up repeatedly in happy people: 1. Spending time with friends and family. 2. Practicing gratitude. 3. Practicing optimism. 4. Physical activity.

Yale’s most popular class in it’s 320 year history: Psychology and the Good Life. Here are 7 lessons from the course to help you live a happier life:
1. About 50% of happiness is determined by genetics. 10% is determined by circumstances. And 40% is determined by us: our thoughts, our actions, and our attitude. Most of us overestimate the role of circumstances – and underestimate our own role – in increasing our happiness.
2. This means that most of us mistakenly focus on our circumstances when looking for sources of happiness: • Money • A fancy job • A fit body • Cars • An attractive partner Turns out these things don’t improve happiness as much as we think they do. But why?
3. Hedonic adaptation. Gains in happiness from improvements in our circumstances are short-lived. We want something (like money). We get it (nice!). We’re happy for a while (yay!). And then we revert to our old selves and want more of it (ooh but now I want the new iPhone).
4. So what does make us happy? The Yale professor studied tons of happy people to find out what works. And certain habits showed up repeatedly in happy people: 1. Spending time with friends and family. 2. Practicing gratitude. 3. Practicing optimism. 4. Physical activity.
5. But what about money? Money makes you happy. No doubt. But only up to a certain point. Studies show that once you hit $75k in income, any subsequent rise in income only has a mild affect on happiness. But there’s another underrated source of wealth and happiness:
6. Time. Money is a renewable resource. Time isn’t. Once we have enough money to cover our needs, more control over our time leads to significant increases in happiness. In fact, people are much happier when they use their money to buy time, according one study.
7. Knowing is not enough. Just because you took a course on happiness – or read a thread – doesn’t mean you’re ready to be happy. Happiness is the product of daily habits that fuel joy over months and years. So get up and start building these habits!
Recap: • Spend time with friends and family. • Practice gratitude. • Practice optimism. • Incorporate physical activity. • Make (enough) money. • Once you have enough, focus on using it to get more control over your time.
If you found this thread helpful, please: – Retweet the first tweet and help others find this thread – Follow me at @heykahn I write about marketing, psychology and career growth. I share my insights along the way.

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