What Happiness Habits Are Right for You?

One size does not fit all when it comes to happiness. In my TED Talk, I describe how scientific research can mask important patterns because we always focus on the average—how long the average person lives, how much alcohol the average person can consume, how long the cold lasts for the average person, etc. But in truth, most people are not average. Average is an imaginary line we draw in the data to make sweeping generalizations. And you are not reading SUCCESS to become average.

With that in mind, some research on habits may not be as nuanced as it needs to be. Some diets work better for certain people. Similarly, positive habits might work better for some people at certain times in their lives. If you have a baby at home, you may feel lots of gratitude but much less social connection. In that case, writing positive emails might be more effective at increasing happiness than a gratitude exercise. Or if you’re feeling positive about your own life, your happiness may be best sustained by focusing on others, with kind gestures like a surprise cup of coffee for a busy friend.

This is really important to remember: While science gives the big picture, no one has published a study only on you. So if you feel as if a new personal-development strategy isn’t working out for you, don’t give up! Try something new. You never know what can impact your life for the better.

Check out advice to love your life in The SUCCESS Guide to Happiness, where we explore what happiness really is, where to find it and how to achieve it.

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Shawn Achor

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