Six Tips for Happiness by a Harvard Teacher

6 Tips for Happiness

Tal Ben-Shahar teaches Positive Psychology (PSY1504) or "how to get happy" at Harvard University. He claims that you can be a "learned optimist" too. Just simplify. These are Ben-Shahar's 6 Tips for Happiness:

1. Give yourself permission to be human
2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning
3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account
4. Simplify
5. Remember the mind-body connection
6. Express gratitude

Nothing new. Just remember to simplify -- this is the most important thing -- keep your eyes on the big picture. See the lecture videos on the Positive Psychology website. The PowerPoint files are also available.

MOTORS of Your Life

Studies describe a set of wellbeing practices that are correlated with the feeling of happiness (BMJ, WJM). I tried to summarize them in the mnemonic MOTORS because the pursuit of happiness, in its altruistic sense, can be the motor of your life.

MOTORS” stands for:

Meaning --> find a meaning in what you do for a living but don't forget to set limits around it
Outlook --> have a positive outlook on life. Be philosophical but also focused on success
Time --> spend quality time with F&F (Family & Friends)
Out of of yuppie values --> don't focus on chasing money or prestige
Religious / spiritual practices
Self care practices, like sports or meditation

All these 6 features are correlated with feeling happier, and some of them even with living longer.

Finding Happiness in a Harvard Classroom. NPR.
Harvard's crowded course to happiness. 'Positive psychology' draws students in droves. The Boston Globe.
How to get happy.
Four Happiness Tips From Tal Ben-Shahar. FoxNews.
Thinking About Medicine - Your Inner Peace
Radical optimist Rob Brezsny talks about overcoming our cultural addiction to gloom and doom on Download mp3.
You don't have to be happy to do your job well, writes Joe who is the 'world's most popular blogging anesthesiologist'
20 Ways to Get and Stay Happy. Time, 2007.
Image source:, public domain.

Finding Happiness in PubMed, and Life. Open Medicine Blog, 09/2007.
Happiness. DB’s Medical Rants, 03/2008.
Experienced happiness is largely set by personality, it will temporarily respond to changing circumstances. The Lancet, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life. This is a quote by Burton Hills and I firmly believe in it. Yours is a nice blog.