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Greater Good In Action

We all want a happy life – right? But how do you really go about it? There seems to be no end of advice from popular magazines to websites claiming they hold the keys to unlocking happiness. But how do you know what’s really worthy of your time and effort? What if there was an easy way to find evidence-based building blocks to create more happiness in your life?

A growing body of research suggests that happiness can be built and developed over time through adopting regular practices in your life. The University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, in collaboration with HopeLab, have developed the Greater Good in Action web resource to help you improve your happiness or the happiness of others. It gives you hundreds of research-based practices to choose from, so you can find the ones that work best for you. It turns these practices into stories, tips and tools and puts them at your fingertips to help you apply the research in your personal and professional life.

The resource is arranged into thirteen topics areas – including awe, compassion, connection, gratitude, kindness, resilience and self-compassion – with each recommended individual practice giving you a choice around:

  • The degree of difficulty (casual, moderate or intense)
  • The suggested time it will take
  • A detailed step-by-step description of how to do it
  • The background evidence for why it works.

As an example, the Meaningful Photos Practice is a moderate activity that asks you to spend 15 minutes a day for the next week taking photos of things that give your life meaning or purpose, such as people, places, objects or pets. At the end of the week you can review your collection, and write down what each photo represents and why it is meaningful to you.

How to Get the Tool?

You can access and create a free account at Greater Good In Action to save your practices, post comments, and download PDFs.

The Greater Good Science Center is a nonprofit, member-supported organization.

What Have Researchers Found?

Research has found that you can increase your happiness levels by making relatively, simple intentional changes in your thoughts and actions. However not all practices may work the same for everyone.  Professor Sonya Lyubomirsky from the University of California has found that you are more likely to boost your happiness and wellbeing if you can choose your own positive activities to best fit with the type of person you are and your circumstances. And if you can add some variety into your activities, by choosing different types and durations you are more likely to boost and sustain your happiness over the long term.

An activity such as the Meaningful Photos can help you recognize and appreciate the things that matter most to you. When you have a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your life you are more likely to feel more satisfied with your life, pursue important personal goals and cope better with stressful situations. You may find this practice particularly beneficial if you are a more visual rather than verbal person. Research suggests that after completing this activity you can perceive your life as more meaningful, experience more positive emotions, and feel more overall satisfaction.

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