The Art and Science of Happiness

Contributed by: Angela Palacios, CFP® Angela Palacios

In 1988 Bobby McFerrin inspired us to “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” As I’m sure many agree, this is far easier said than done.  During the Raymond James National Conference I had the privilege to attend a session on happiness taught by Dr. Fred Luskin from Stanford University.  This session was a very abbreviated, but no less inspiring, version of his popular course offered at Stanford University.  We can all use a little more happiness in life even if we aren’t unhappy and Dr. Luskin offers some tools to help us do so.

Manage your drive to achieve

“Happiness is wanting what you have” said Dr. Luskin.

Don’t waste all of your time pining for more or something different than you already have. You can strive for more, but take time to appreciate what you do have.

Savor moments of success and love

Too often we ruin these moments by immediately picking up our phone to check email or text messages. Stop and just enjoy the moment briefly before moving on to the next item on the list.

Take time to show gratitude

Think about what you are grateful for and share that with someone.   We don’t have to wait until it is November to post these things on Facebook or share with someone; try to do this every day.

Give your brain the opportunity to see the happiness

Mediate, take breaks and relax.  It is ok to have a lot to do. “In every life we have some trouble, When you worry you make it double.”  Train yourself to just be ok with having a lot to do and temper your drive to get it all done at once.

Dr. Luskin teaches us not to focus on what has gone wrong, but instead what makes people happy and why.  So while we all can’t attend a class at Stanford, an easy first step is try generating your own list of activities and experiences that rejuvenate you and keep it handy to help you manage your daily stress.  This small step can go a long way in increasing our mood, health, productivity and overall happiness.

Angela Palacios, CFP® is the Portfolio Manager at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Angela specializes in Investment and Macro economic research. She is a frequent contributor to Money Centered as well asinvestment updates at The Center.

Raymond James is not affiliated with Dr. Fred Luskin