So You Want To Find Happiness? Here’s Where It’s Been Hiding
Americans spend nearly $11 billion in hot pursuit of happiness. By rights, they really should be the happiest people on the planet. But in reality, almost the complete opposite is true. International comparisons consistently show that people in the United States are some of the least happy (the United States is 19th among OECD countries, down from third in 2007), most stressed, and anxiouspeople in the developed world.
So what is going wrong? I spent the last few years trying to get to the bottom of this strange paradox while researching my book,America the Anxious, Why Our Search for Happiness Is Driving Us Crazy and How to Find It for Real. Here’s some of the key things I learned about how to get off the happiness-seeking treadmill and find genuine contentment:
1. Invest in your personal relationships.
In an individualistic culture, we have come to see happiness as a personal journey that involves diving deep to really know ourselves and be ourselves. But surprisingly, a wide body of research showsthat the single biggest factor affecting our happiness is the strength of our social connections and relationships with other people. While self-reflection has its place and is an essential component to said connections, it’s just as important to invest time in our relationships and communities.