Here’s to more happiness!

A five-year study by National Geographic fellow Dan Beuttner identified the world’s healthiest places and researched what made the residents healthy. His book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from People Who’ve Lived the Longest contains the results of his research.

Beuttner’s new book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way describes his findings about how people in those places find happiness — and how you can too. He was interviewed on NPR. (You can find links to his other interviews on NPR. This is some pretty fascinating research.)

In some places people were happy because of government policies, such as a high tax rate that pays for education through college, health care, and retirement in Denmark — a safety net for everyone that relieves financial stress and maximizes creativity and happiness, and tax breaks for adults whose aging parents live with or near them in Singapore — because socializing with parents increases happiness too.

Here are a few tips that you can implement on your own to increase your happiness, without waiting for government to do anything:

  • Live around happy people. If you’re unhappy, move where the people are happier. Here’s a list of happy (and sad) cities. I’m happy to say that Austin is the second happiest large city in the nation.
  • Work smarter: Working to earn more than $75,000 (for a family of four) does not equate to more day-to-day experiences of happiness. So if you’re making $75,000 now, working harder might net you more money but it probably won’t make you feel better. Go do something fun instead of putting in that overtime!
  • Shorten your commute by moving near work or working nearer (or from) your home.

I also like to remember this awesome quote:

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

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