The DIY Path to Joy from Mindful.org

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The key is intention, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, and author of The How of Happiness. “I’m not suggesting we all try to become happier,” she tells me. “But those who feel their lives are not quite flourishing or who experience a lot of negative emotions can benefit from positive interventions.”

Although Lyubomirsky suggests multiple strategies for boosting happiness, she cautions that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “Many of us persist in searching for the one true path to happiness, like the one diet that will work when all others have failed,” she says. “In truth there is no magic bullet. There are hundreds of things you can do. You have to experiment and choose what’s right for you.” Hearing this comes as a relief; I’m always suspicious of books and articles that evangelize the one true way.

Among the many strategies that Lyubomirsky discusses are: conveying your gratitude to others either verbally or in a letter; cultivating optimism; practicing deliberate acts of kindness; nurturing strong social relationships; forgiving those who may have hurt you; genuinely savoring life’s joys; participating in activities that truly engage you; practicing mindfulness; and taking care of your body, including exercising and cultivating laughter.

“Start with small steps to create an upward spiral,” advises Lyubomirsky. “Sense which of these activities feels most natural and most easily fits with your lifestyle, then try something a little more challenging later on. Ideally, some of the practices, such as focusing on relationships and becoming a better listener, will in time become automatic. Others may require ongoing intention and effort, like remembering to take a dose of a helpful medicine.”

Practicing gratitude, in particular, may feel artificial, but study after study has shown it to be one of the most powerful activities we can engage in. Lyubomirsky says, “Gratitude is a great way to consider what’s good about your life, instead of focusing on what’s not good or what other people have that you don’t. Lots of people say it’s hokey to count your blessings, and I’m actually one of them, but the payoff is tremendous.”

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One response to this post.

  1. I like this article points out numerous ways to improve.

    As I believe it recommends starting out small and in an area that feels most natural and we can take action.

    Gratitude it is verified now, is part of the path

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