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“Science has shown us that being happy requires an intentional effort,” says psychologist Laurie Santos.
“It’s not easy, you have to dedicate time”.
Santos is a professor at Yale University in New Haven, United States, where she teaches the course “Psychology and Good Life”.
With more than 1,200 students enrolled, their class became the most popular in the three centuries of Yale history.
Santos bases his course on positive psychology , which is the area of psychology that studies happiness.
“Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky compares being happy with learning to play the violin or becoming a soccer star,” says Santos. “It’s not something you can simply do, you have to practice to be better and better.”
Based on these premises, Santos teaches his students to “hack”, that is, to reprogram their habits to make them happier and healthier.
These are some of the tasks that the students of Santos have to fulfill in order to try to be happier:
1. The gratitude list
For one week, each night students should write down the things for which they feel grateful.
So they create their own gratitude list.
“It sounds simple enough but we have seen that those who do this exercise on a regular basis tend to be happier,” says Santos.
2. Sleep more and better
According to Santos, this exercise is quite difficult for his students, because at Yale they must complete a great deal of tasks.
The challenge is to sleep 8 hours each night for a week.
“It seems silly, but we know that increasing sleep decreases depression and increases positive attitude,” says Santos.
The task is to meditate 10 minutes each day.
Santos explains that studies show that meditation and other practices that increase mindfulness can help them be happier.
4. More time to share with family and friends
Santos also mentions that research has shown that the things that normally bring happiness have to do with interpersonal relationships and social connections.
“Have time to be with your friends and your family, enjoy the moment, be aware and experience the world,” he enumerates.
“Many times we relate wealth to the amount of money we have,” Santos explains, “but research has shown that it is related more to how much time you have.”
“If you’re sacrificing your time to work more and earn more money, that’s not good behavior, it would be better to increase the amount of free time you have.”
5. Less social networks and more real connections
For Santos, it is also important not to be fooled by the satisfaction sensations offered by social networks.
“Research shows that people who use networks like Instagram tend to be less happy than those who use them less, which means that these social networks are not making us as happy as we think.”
“You have to disconnect from social networks and get some more sleep.”