Optimizing your environment for happiness

You can do several things to enjoy your life day-to-day. Positive psychology techniques of gratitude is generally a short-term solution.

More importantly is to optimize your environment so you're more likely to be happy long term.



Self Improvement


Measuring happiness

Academically speaking, happiness cannot be measured. It is really a mix of health, emotions, the way you evaluate your life, and the extent to which you live out your values.

While happiness can't be measured, you can measure life satisfaction by asking questions about how much you feel joy. You can measure people's sense of purpose by asking what new and interesting things they learn every day and if they used their strength to do what they do best.

Happiness can be thought of as a retirement portfolio. You want it balanced with short and long term investments.

Those in pursuit of purpose miss that there is value in the sum of positive emotions we experience every day. If you're only goal-oriented, you forgo today's joy for a perceived better future. But, chasing tomorrow might not give you the happiness you desire.

  • When choosing a place to live, people who live near water, whether a lake, river, or ocean, are 10 percent more likely to be happy than people who don't.
  • People who live in medium-sized cities are more likely to be happy than in a big city or a tiny town.
  • You're more likely to be happy if your house has a sidewalk, and if you live in a bikeable place.
  • Financial security delivers more happiness over time than what you can buy. After your needs are met, you maybe treat yourself occasionally. The money you have left is better spent investing than purchasing a new gadget.
  • It's better spending your money more wisely on experiences or financial security than purchasing something new. A new item may spike your joy but wears off quickly.

Even if you cannot change your broader environment, you can still do small things to create positive emotions.

  • You can put pictures that trigger pleasant memories in your home where you pass often.
  • Research shows that having green plants around is good.
  • Cutting down on mindless TV will help.
  • A front porch is better than a back deck.
  • The happiest people are socializing six to seven hours a day. Even with social media, if you think of friends like long-term adventures, it kind of meets the experience-focused criterion.
  • Who you spend time with has a huge impact on your happiness. Proactively find happy friends who like to laugh.

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Happiness vs Joy

Happiness is dependent on outside circumstances to align with your expectations so that the end result is your happiness. It’s based on internal and external circumstances, thus unstable, with its chronic lack leading to despair and depression.

Meanwhile, joy is internal and not contingent on anything in order to exist. It can be cultivated and the first step to do it is to understand the difference between happiness and joy.



Happiness isn't just a feeling that should be left entirely to chance. There are specific factors that influence your happiness, which can be easily tracked with the right tools.

Happiness comes a lot more easily when we stop thinking about it

Happiness is more like a place you occupy than an object you obtain. Some days you’ll be there and some days you wont, but the more time you spend thinking about being happy, the less likely you are to spend time being so.

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