Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think 2014
by Paul DolanRanked
Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think is a book written by Paul Dolan, professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics. The book explores how to achieve happiness through changing our behaviour rather than trying to change our thoughts and feelings. It argues that we can be happier if we focus on what we do rather than how we think or feel about it.
The book begins with an introduction to the concept of ‘behavioural design’ – using evidence-based strategies to shape our environment in order to influence our behaviour and ultimately increase happiness. Dolan then goes on to discuss different aspects of life which can be improved through behavioural design such as work, relationships, leisure activities and health. He explains how small changes in these areas can have a big impact on overall wellbeing.
Dolan also looks at the role technology plays in influencing behaviour and suggests ways it can be used for good instead of bad. He examines various psychological theories related to happiness such as hedonic adaptation (the tendency for people's level of satisfaction with their lives to return back towards its baseline after experiencing positive events) and self-determination theory (which states that humans need autonomy, competence and relatedness in order for them experience true fulfilment).
Finally, Dolan provides practical advice on how readers can use behavioural design techniques in their own lives including setting goals, creating habits and tracking progress over time. He also offers tips on dealing with difficult emotions like anxiety or depression without relying solely on medication.
Overall Happiness by Design is an informative guide which shows readers how they can make meaningful changes in their lives without having to rely solely on willpower or positive thinking alone.
- #1. Understand the difference between pleasure and happiness: Pleasure is a short-term feeling of satisfaction, while happiness is a long-term sense of contentment. Understanding the distinction between the two is key to achieving lasting happiness.
Pleasure and happiness are two distinct concepts, but they are often confused. Pleasure is a short-term feeling of satisfaction that comes from engaging in activities such as eating delicious food, going on vacation, or buying something new. It can be intense and fleeting; it’s the kind of emotion that you experience when you do something enjoyable.
Happiness, on the other hand, is a long-term sense of contentment with life overall. It’s not necessarily dependent on any particular activity or event; rather it’s an attitude towards life that allows us to appreciate what we have and find joy in everyday moments. Happiness isnt always easy to achieve—it requires effort and dedication—but understanding the difference between pleasure and happiness can help us focus our efforts more effectively.
- #2. Prioritize activities that bring you joy: Identifying activities that bring you joy and making them a priority in your life is essential for achieving happiness.
Prioritizing activities that bring you joy is an important part of living a happy and fulfilling life. Joyful activities can be anything from spending time with friends and family, to engaging in hobbies or creative pursuits, to simply taking some time for yourself. When we prioritize these activities, it helps us focus on the things that make us feel good and brings more meaning into our lives.
Making joyful activities a priority also allows us to take control of our own happiness. We can choose how we spend our time and energy instead of letting external factors dictate what makes us happy. By focusing on the things that bring us joy, we are able to create positive experiences for ourselves which leads to greater overall satisfaction.
Finally, prioritizing joyful activities gives us something tangible to look forward to each day. Knowing that there is something special waiting for you at the end of your workday or during your weekend can help motivate you through difficult times and give you something positive to focus on.
- #3. Design your environment to promote happiness: The environment you create for yourself can have a significant impact on your happiness. Designing your environment to promote positive emotions is key to achieving lasting happiness.
Designing your environment to promote happiness can involve a variety of strategies. One way is to create an atmosphere that encourages positive emotions and activities. This could include adding items such as plants, artwork, or photographs that evoke feelings of joy and contentment. Additionally, you may want to consider the colors in your space; research has shown that certain hues can have a calming effect on people.
Another strategy for creating an environment conducive to happiness is to reduce clutter and distractions. Clutter can be overwhelming and lead to stress, so it’s important to keep things organized and tidy. Similarly, reducing noise levels or eliminating sources of distraction like television or social media can help you focus on what truly matters.
Finally, it’s important not only to design your physical environment but also the people who inhabit it with you. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who will lift you up when times are tough—these relationships are essential for lasting happiness.
- #4. Focus on the present moment: Focusing on the present moment can help you to appreciate the good things in life and to be more mindful of your actions.
Focusing on the present moment can be a powerful tool for improving your overall happiness. When you focus on the present, it helps to bring clarity and perspective to your life. You become more aware of what is happening around you and how it affects you emotionally. This awareness allows you to make better decisions about how to respond in any given situation.
By focusing on the present moment, we can also appreciate all that we have in our lives right now. We can take time out from worrying about the future or ruminating over past events and instead savor each moment as it comes. This appreciation for what we have right now helps us cultivate gratitude which has been linked with increased levels of happiness.
Finally, by focusing on the present moment, we are able to practice mindfulness - being fully aware of our thoughts, feelings and actions without judgment or attachment. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress levels and increase positive emotions such as joy and contentment.
- #5. Take control of your emotions: Taking control of your emotions is essential for achieving happiness. Learning to recognize and manage your emotions can help you to stay in control of your happiness.
Taking control of your emotions is essential for achieving happiness. It can be difficult to recognize and manage our own emotions, but it is an important skill that can help us stay in control of our happiness. When we are able to identify and understand our feelings, we can better respond to them in a healthy way. We can learn how to express ourselves without letting our emotions take over or become overwhelming.
One way to do this is by practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation or yoga. These activities allow us to focus on the present moment and observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment or attachment. This helps us gain insight into what triggers certain emotional responses so that we can better manage them when they arise.
We also need to practice self-care by taking time out for ourselves each day, engaging in activities that bring joy, connecting with supportive people, eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. All these things will help keep us emotionally balanced so that we don’t get overwhelmed by negative feelings.
Finally, it’s important not only to take control of your emotions but also accept them as part of life’s journey. Emotions are neither good nor bad; they simply exist within us as part of being human. By learning how to recognize and manage them effectively, you will be able create more positive experiences in life which will ultimately lead you towards greater happiness.
- #6. Develop meaningful relationships: Developing meaningful relationships with others is essential for achieving happiness. Connecting with others can help to bring joy and fulfillment to your life.
Developing meaningful relationships with others is essential for achieving happiness. Connecting with others can help to bring joy and fulfillment to your life. It is important to take the time to build strong, lasting relationships that are based on trust, respect, and understanding. This means taking the time to get to know someone beyond surface level conversations and really listening when they talk about their lives.
Meaningful relationships require effort from both parties in order for them to be successful. You should strive to make yourself available whenever possible so that you can spend quality time together. Show genuine interest in what they have going on in their lives and offer support when needed. Additionally, it’s important not only listen but also share your own experiences as well.
Its also important not just focus on one person or group of people; instead try branching out and meeting new people who may have different perspectives than yours which could lead you down a path of self-discovery or even open up opportunities for growth within yourself.
- #7. Find purpose in life: Finding purpose in life is essential for achieving happiness. Identifying what is meaningful to you and pursuing it can help to bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to your life.
Finding purpose in life is essential for achieving happiness. Identifying what is meaningful to you and pursuing it can help to bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to your life. This could mean dedicating yourself to a cause, such as volunteering or working towards social justice; engaging in creative activities like writing, painting, or music; or simply spending time with family and friends. It’s important to remember that everyone has different interests and passions, so there isn’t one “right” way to find purpose in life. The key is finding something that resonates with you personally.
Once you have identified what brings meaning into your life, its important to take action on those goals. Setting small achievable goals can help keep you motivated while also helping you stay focused on the bigger picture of why this goal matters so much to you. Additionally, surrounding yourself with people who share similar values can be incredibly helpful when trying to achieve these goals – having support from others will make the journey easier.
Finally, dont forget that finding purpose doesnt always have an end result – sometimes just taking part in activities that bring joy are enough! Whether its reading books for pleasure or going out for walks in nature - doing things purely because they make us happy can be just as fulfilling as reaching a long-term goal.
- #8. Practice gratitude: Practicing gratitude can help to bring a sense of appreciation and contentment to your life. Taking time to appreciate the good things in life can help to bring joy and happiness.
Practicing gratitude can help to bring a sense of appreciation and contentment to your life. Taking time each day to recognize the good things in life, no matter how small, can be incredibly beneficial for our mental health. It helps us focus on what we have rather than what we lack, and it encourages us to appreciate the people and experiences that make our lives meaningful.
Gratitude is also an important part of self-care. When we take time out of our busy schedules to express thanks for all that we have, it helps us feel more connected with ourselves and those around us. We become aware of how much joy there is in our lives when we pause long enough to notice it.
It’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves or others, but practicing gratitude can help shift this mindset into one of positivity and optimism. By taking a few moments each day to reflect on all that you are thankful for—whether big or small—you will start feeling more grateful for everything you have.
- #9. Take care of your physical health: Taking care of your physical health is essential for achieving happiness. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can help to promote positive emotions and overall wellbeing.
Taking care of your physical health is essential for achieving happiness. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can help to promote positive emotions and overall wellbeing. A balanced diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Regular exercise helps to reduce stress levels while also improving moods by releasing endorphins in the brain. Additionally, getting adequate restful sleep each night is important for maintaining energy levels throughout the day.
In addition to eating well and exercising regularly, it’s important to take time out for yourself every now and then. Taking breaks from work or other activities can help you relax both mentally and physically. It’s also beneficial to practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation or yoga which can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
By taking care of your physical health through proper nutrition, regular exercise, sufficient restful sleep, relaxation techniques like mindfulness practices – you will be able to achieve greater happiness in life.
- #10. Pursue meaningful goals: Pursuing meaningful goals can help to bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to your life. Identifying goals that are important to you and working towards them can help to bring joy and happiness.
Pursuing meaningful goals can be a powerful way to bring purpose and fulfillment into your life. Taking the time to identify what is important to you, and then setting out on a path towards achieving those goals, can help you find joy and satisfaction in your daily life. Its important to remember that these goals dont have to be grandiose or overly ambitious; they just need to be something that matters deeply to you. Whether its learning a new skill, starting a business, or simply taking more time for yourself each day – whatever it is that brings meaning into your life should become the focus of your pursuit.
When pursuing meaningful goals, its also essential not only to set realistic expectations but also give yourself permission for failure along the way. Achieving any goal takes hard work and dedication; there will inevitably be setbacks and obstacles along the way. But if you stay focused on why this goal matters so much to you in the first place – whether it’s personal growth or making an impact on others – then these challenges won’t seem as daunting.
Finally, when striving towards meaningful goals make sure that you take some time every now and again for reflection. Celebrate small successes along the journey as well as big ones at its conclusion; this will help keep motivation high even during difficult times.
- #11. Spend time in nature: Spending time in nature can help to bring a sense of peace and contentment to your life. Taking time to appreciate the beauty of nature can help to bring joy and happiness.
Spending time in nature can be a great way to relax and unwind. Taking the time to appreciate the beauty of nature can help you feel more connected with your environment, as well as bring joy and happiness into your life. Nature has a calming effect on our minds, allowing us to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether it’s taking a walk through the woods or simply sitting outside in your backyard, spending some quality time outdoors can help reduce stress levels and improve overall wellbeing.
Being surrounded by natural elements such as trees, plants, flowers, birdsong and other wildlife can also have positive effects on our mental health. Studies have shown that being exposed to green spaces helps reduce feelings of anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem. Additionally, spending time in nature has been linked to improved concentration levels which is beneficial for both work productivity and academic performance.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by daily life then why not try taking some time out for yourself? Get outside into nature – whether it’s just for an hour or two – and enjoy all its wonders!
- #12. Take time for yourself: Taking time for yourself is essential for achieving happiness. Taking time to relax and do things that bring you joy can help to promote positive emotions and overall wellbeing.
Taking time for yourself is essential for achieving happiness. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but it’s important to take a step back and make sure you are taking care of your own needs. Taking time to relax and do things that bring you joy can help to promote positive emotions and overall wellbeing.
It could be something as simple as going for a walk or reading a book, or something more involved like taking an art class or learning a new skill. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that brings you pleasure and helps you feel relaxed. This will give your mind some much-needed respite from the stresses of daily life.
In addition to helping with relaxation, taking time for yourself can also help boost creativity and productivity. When we take breaks from our work or other obligations, we allow ourselves the opportunity to think more clearly about our goals and how best to achieve them.
Finally, making sure you have enough “me-time” allows us to reconnect with ourselves on a deeper level. We often forget how important self-care is in maintaining good mental health; by carving out moments just for ourselves we can better understand our feelings and needs.
- #13. Find balance in life: Finding balance in life is essential for achieving happiness. Taking time to prioritize activities that bring you joy and managing your time effectively can help to bring balance and contentment to your life.
Finding balance in life is essential for achieving happiness. Taking time to prioritize activities that bring you joy and managing your time effectively can help to bring balance and contentment to your life. This could mean setting aside a few hours each week for hobbies or leisure activities, such as reading, playing sports, or spending quality time with friends and family. It could also involve taking regular breaks from work throughout the day so that you don’t become overwhelmed by stress or burnout. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that you are getting enough restful sleep each night so that you have the energy needed to tackle whatever comes your way during the day.
Creating a balanced lifestyle also involves making healthy choices when it comes to diet and exercise. Eating nutritious meals regularly will give you more energy throughout the day while exercising on a regular basis can help reduce stress levels and improve overall physical health. Finally, finding ways to practice self-care is an important part of maintaining balance in life; this could include anything from meditating daily or taking long walks in nature.
- #14. Practice mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness can help to bring a sense of peace and contentment to your life. Taking time to be mindful of your thoughts and actions can help to bring joy and happiness.
Practicing mindfulness can be a powerful tool for improving your overall wellbeing. It involves taking the time to become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in the present moment. By doing this, you can gain insight into how these things affect your life and make conscious choices about how to respond to them. Mindfulness also helps you cultivate an attitude of acceptance towards yourself and others, which can lead to greater peace and contentment.
When practicing mindfulness, it is important to focus on being non-judgmental. This means that instead of judging or labeling what you are experiencing as good or bad, simply observe it without judgment. You may find that by allowing yourself to experience whatever arises without trying to change it or push it away will help bring a sense of calmness and clarity.
Mindfulness practice doesn’t have to take up much time; even just five minutes each day can make a difference in how you feel throughout the day. Taking some time out from our busy lives allows us space for reflection and self-care – something we all need more of!
- #15. Connect with your values: Connecting with your values is essential for achieving happiness. Identifying what is important to you and living in accordance with your values can help to bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to your life.
Connecting with your values is essential for achieving happiness. Values are the things that we believe to be important and meaningful in our lives, such as family, friendship, health, education or career success. When we live in accordance with our values, it can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to our lives. It helps us make decisions that align with what matters most to us and gives us direction when faced with difficult choices.
Identifying your values can help you understand yourself better and create a life that reflects who you truly are. Take some time to reflect on what is important to you – think about how you want others to remember you by or what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Once identified, use these values as guiding principles for making decisions throughout your life.
Living according to your values also means being honest with yourself about where they come from. Are they based on external expectations or internal desires? Do they reflect societal norms or something more personal? Knowing the source of your values will help ensure that they remain true reflections of who you are.
Finally, connecting with your values requires taking action towards living them out every day. This could mean setting goals related to each value or finding ways in which those goals can be achieved over time. It’s also important not only focus on the end result but enjoy the journey along the way!
- #16. Take risks: Taking risks can help to bring a sense of excitement and fulfillment to your life. Taking time to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things can help to bring joy and happiness.
Taking risks can help to bring a sense of excitement and fulfillment to your life. It is important to remember that taking risks does not necessarily mean putting yourself in danger; it simply means pushing the boundaries of what you are comfortable with. Taking time to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things can help to bring joy and happiness, as well as provide opportunities for personal growth.
When considering taking a risk, it is important to weigh up the potential benefits against any possible drawbacks. If the potential rewards outweigh any potential losses then it may be worth pursuing. However, if there is too much uncertainty or risk involved then it may be best avoided.
It is also important to remember that failure should not be seen as an end point but rather an opportunity for learning and growth. Even if something doesnt work out exactly how you had hoped, there will still have been valuable lessons learned along the way.
Ultimately, taking risks can open up many possibilities in life that would otherwise remain unexplored. So don’t be afraid – take some chances!
- #17. Find ways to give back: Finding ways to give back can help to bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to your life. Taking time to help others and make a difference in the world can help to bring joy and happiness.
Finding ways to give back can help to bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to your life. It doesnt have to be something big or expensive - even small acts of kindness can make a difference in someones day. Volunteering at a local charity, donating items you no longer need, or simply offering words of encouragement are all great ways to give back. Taking time out of your busy schedule for others will not only benefit them but also yourself.
Giving back is an important part of living a meaningful life. Not only does it provide us with the opportunity to help those who may be less fortunate than ourselves, but it also helps us appreciate what we have and recognize our own blessings. When we take the time to do something kind for another person, it brings joy and happiness into our lives as well.
Making giving back part of your routine can help you stay connected with the world around you and remind you that there is always more work that needs doing. Whether it’s helping out at a soup kitchen once a week or just taking some extra time each day to show appreciation for those around you, finding ways to give back will bring more meaning into your life.
- #18. Learn to forgive: Learning to forgive is essential for achieving happiness. Taking time to forgive yourself and others can help to bring a sense of peace and contentment to your life.
Learning to forgive is an important part of achieving happiness. It can be difficult to let go of grudges and resentments, but it is essential for finding peace and contentment in life. Taking the time to forgive yourself and others can help you move forward with a more positive outlook on life.
Forgiveness doesnt mean that you have forgotten what happened or that you condone the behavior; rather, it means that you are choosing not to hold onto negative feelings about the situation any longer. This allows you to focus your energy on things that bring joy into your life instead of dwelling on past hurts.
Its also important to remember that forgiveness isnt something we do just once; its an ongoing process. We may need to revisit our feelings from time-to-time as new situations arise or old memories resurface. But by taking steps towards forgiving ourselves and others, we can create a healthier environment for ourselves both mentally and emotionally.
- #19. Live in the moment: Living in the moment can help to bring a sense of appreciation and contentment to your life. Taking time to appreciate the present moment can help to bring joy and happiness.
Living in the moment can be a powerful way to bring more joy and contentment into your life. Taking time to appreciate what is happening right now, rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, can help you to savor each moment and find pleasure in even small things. It also helps you to stay focused on what matters most in life – relationships, experiences, and moments of connection with others.
When we live in the present moment, it allows us to fully experience our emotions without judgment or fear. We can take time to reflect on how we are feeling and why we feel that way. This kind of self-awareness can lead us towards greater understanding of ourselves and our needs so that we can make better decisions for our lives.
Living in the moment also encourages gratitude for all that is good around us. When we focus on being thankful for what we have instead of wishing for something else, it brings a sense of peace and satisfaction that no material possession could ever provide.
Finally, living in the present gives us an opportunity to practice mindfulness – paying attention non-judgmentally to whatever arises within us from one moment to another. By doing this regularly over time, it becomes easier for us not only recognize but also accept our thoughts and feelings as they come up without getting caught up in them.
- #20. Find joy in the little things: Finding joy in the little things can help to bring a sense of appreciation and contentment to your life. Taking time to appreciate the small moments in life can help to bring joy and happiness.
Finding joy in the little things can help to bring a sense of appreciation and contentment to your life. Taking time out of our busy schedules to appreciate the small moments that make up our lives can be incredibly rewarding. It could be something as simple as taking a few minutes each day to watch the sunrise, or savoring a cup of coffee while reading a book. These seemingly insignificant moments can have an immense impact on how we feel about ourselves and our lives.
It is also important to recognize that joy doesn’t always come from external sources; it often comes from within us. We should take time for self-care activities such as yoga, meditation, journaling, or simply taking some deep breaths throughout the day. Doing these activities regularly will help us cultivate inner peace and happiness.
Finally, it is essential to remember that joy isn’t just about feeling good in the moment; it is also about creating lasting memories with those around us. Spending quality time with family and friends helps build strong relationships which are key components of overall wellbeing.