In 2019, I traveled to all 50 states to find out how Americans achieve internal happiness regardless of external circumstances. During my journey, I interviewed more than 500 self-described happy people to learn how they create more joy in their everyday lives and chronicled my journey and learnings in the American Happiness documentary.
We often complicate the notion of happiness, but what I discovered by talking to many people who’ve achieved happiness and good habits was that there are a number of simple tweaks you can make to improve your happiness levels immediately, and build habits that put you on the path to long-term happiness.
The first part of creating more internal happiness is becoming self aware of what’s currently creating it—and on the flip side—what’s draining it. Start with the concrete step of writing a list of the things that bring you joy versus the things that don’t. Key to this exercise is that this list should be things you can control. From there, reflect on how you can manage your time doing more of the things you love while limiting your time on the things that decrease your happiness.
CREATE A “WORDS TO LIVE BY” LIST
Often, people think once you achieve a life goal you’ll achieve long-term happiness, but that wasn’t the case for the majority of people I spoke with. For them, happiness was a muscle they needed to continuously exercise and reevaluate. Reaching your goals is great, but many people discover the satisfaction is fleeting. If you look deeper, you’ll find that what we often crave is the emotion associated with the achievement instead of the achievement itself. This insight provides an opportunity to gain more control over your attitude.