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5 Secrets for Daily Joy, Backed by Research by TIME

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Tal Ben-Shahar taught the most popular class at Harvard University — and it was all about happiness. He’s also the bestselling author of a number of books including Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment.

Here’s what Tal had to say about how to be happy:

  • You need pleasure and meaning. Feeling good is important but we also need a purpose.
  • Map your life. Note where your time goes and ask if it’s making you happy. Then do more of the good stuff.
  • “No pain, no gain” is a myth. We’re happiest doing things where we enjoy the process, not just the results.
  • What would you do if no one would judge you? This question can point you in the right direction.
  • Doing beats knowing. Use rituals. Don’t just read these ideas. Make them into habits.

Maybe you don’t feel so great right now. Tal says that’s okay. Do you dream of a perfect life that’s all ups, no downs? Never gonna happen. And that’s alright.

Be compassionate with yourself. Life is rich and varied. Give yourself permission to be human. Every day won’t be great but we can make more of them better if we try. Here’s Tal:

First, the foundation of a happy life is what I’ve come to call giving ourselves the permission to be human. To experience the full gamut of human emotions. That’s what a happy life is about. It’s a life where we have difficulties and dark places and hardships, and where we celebrate and express gratitude and love.

Start making one of these things into a habit right now: send someone a bit of gratitude. Send a “thank you” text or email to that person who did something nice for you recently.

Gratitude is the best habit to start out with because it’s easy and it’s very efficient…

You actually make two people happy.

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