Harvard Happiness Study Director’s Simple Tip for Instant Happiness


Dr. Robert Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, shared a quick habit during The Atlantic Festival that can significantly boost happiness. According to the decades-long Harvard happiness study he directs, people who excel at connecting with others daily tend to be the happiest and most resilient in the face of life challenges. This ability is often termed “social fitness,” emphasizing consistently evaluating and enhancing how individuals contribute to their relationships to become better friends and partners.

Waldinger’s suggestion comprises two key aspects. Firstly, individuals should be mindful of where they direct their attention and consciously focus on people they care about. This involves being aware of activities that negatively impact happiness, such as excessive social media use, and reducing them. Conversely, if engaging with close friends about aspirations and dreams brings motivation and joy, it should be prioritized.

Practicing the shift of attention from negative influences to positive aspects and the people one cares about is crucial. Intentionally building relationships is essential for social fitness, and one practical approach is to reach out to a different person daily to stay connected.

Waldinger personalizes his social fitness routine by initiating conversations with Uber drivers, fostering connections with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Recognizing the impact of workplace relationships on career success, he emphasizes the importance of developing healthy connections with colleagues. Overall, enhancing social fitness satisfies a critical social need, leading to greater job satisfaction and improved performance.

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