10 actions of happiness–make every day your international day of hapiness.


Giving icon

Do things for others

Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good! Read more…


Relating icon

Connect with people

Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness. Read more…


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Take care of your body

Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep! Read more…


Appreciating icon

Live life mindfully

Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day. Read more…


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Keep learning new things

Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more. Read more…




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Have goals to look forward to

Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them. Read more…


Resilience icon

Find ways to bounce back

All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned. Read more…


Emotion icon

Look for what’s good

Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. Read more…


Acceptance icon

Be comfortable with who you are

No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. Read more…


Meaning icon

Be part of something bigger

People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Read more…

Source: Action for Happiness


Cultivating positive emotions in students

Barbara Fredrickson has shown that experiencing positive emotions has profound impact on one’s happiness

Positive emotions are triggered by our interpretations of our current circumstances, whereas pleasure is what we get when we give the body what it needs right now. If you’re thirsty, water tastes really good; if you’re cold, it feels good to wrap your coat around you. Pleasures tell us what the body needs. Positive emotions tell us not just what the body needs but what we need mentally and emotionally and what our future selves might need. They help us broaden our minds and our outlook and build our resources down the road. I call it the “broaden-and-build” effect.

As She explains in her book, Positivity,

“[Positive emotions] broaden people’s ideas about possible actions, opening our awareness to a wider range of thoughts and actions than is typical. Joy, for instance, sparks the urge to play and be creative. Interest sparks the urge to explore and learn, whereas serenity sparks the urge to savor our current circumstances and integrate them into a new view of ourselves and the world around us. . . By opening our hearts and minds, positive emotions allow us to discover and build new skills, new ties, new knowledge, and new ways of being.”

She specifically identifies 10 postive emotions we should be cultivating:

She uses various techniques to grow positive emotions from Loving-Kindness Meditiation to watching funny clips to keeping a positivity portfolio

Imagine that you have a folder or a box you can open, peek inside and see all the good things that happened to you recently; be it a picture your child drew for you or a complimentary email your client sent you or a little note you discovered your beloved left in the sugar bowl for you or goofy pictures of your loved ones. Sitting down and enjoying the memories will inevitably make you feel great in no time.

Each day focus on one emotion and find physical manifestations that remind you of that emotion–think pictures, video clips, mementos, cards, poems, your own writings etc. 

Another technique is to track your ratio of positive emotions to negative ones. She provides a tool on her website to help you track your own positivity ratio. 

In the next 10 segements I will identify some strategies for EACH specific postive emotions and how to cultivate in the classroom. In the meantime, listen to Barbara explain it here:

Further Reading:

– Cultivating Positive Emotions to Optimize Health and Well-Being (pdf) by Barbara L. Fredrickson.
– What Good Are Positive Emotions? (pdf) by Barbara L. Fredrickson.

Find the 200 most popular arctiles on positive emotions here

What parents really want for their children

What do you think parents want more for their children?

  • Be happy in life
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle
  • Earn enough to enjoy a comfortable life
  • Be successful in their career
  • Fulfil their potential 


According to a survey of over 5000 parents in 16 countries by banking great HSBC, 64% want happiness. Parents were asked to pick their top three, in rank order. HSBC then breaks it out by country:

Q: What are the three most important goals that you want your child to achieve as an adult?

More individualist socieites emphasized happiness. I personally am surprised to se China rank so high on lifestyle and so low on earning enough to have a comfortable life. Not sure what to make of this other than people in developing nations who have an HSBC bank account probably already have a comfortable life that they intend to pass onto their children. How does this compare to the UN Happy country index?

So ambition may not represent current reality, but hope can be a powerful motivator. 


Happiness for free

Ed X is offering a free online course about Hapiness taught by Greater Good Society fellows:

The Science of Happiness

Starts September 9, 2014 – Register Now!

An unprecedented free online course exploring the roots of a happy, meaningful life. Co-taught by the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner andEmiliana Simon-Thomas

“The Science of Happiness” is a free, eight-week online course that explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Students will engage with some of the most provocative and practical lessons from this science, discovering how cutting-edge research can be applied to their own lives.

Created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the course zeroes in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good. Students will learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond.

What’s more, “The Science of Happiness” will offer students practical strategies for nurturing their own happiness. Research suggests that up to 40 percent of happiness depends on our habits and activities. So each week, students will learn a new research-tested practice that fosters social and emotional well-being—and the course will help them track their progress along the way.

The course will include:

  • Short videos featuring the co-instructors and guest lectures from top experts on the science of happiness;
  • Articles and other readings that make the science accessible and understandable to non-academics;
  • Weekly “happiness practices”—real-world exercises that students can try on their own, all based on research linking these practices to greater happiness;
  • Tests, quizzes, polls, and a weekly “emotion check-in” that help students gauge their happiness and track their progress over time;
  • Discussion boards where students can share ideas with one another and submit questions to their instructors.

Hooray for Sadness: positive emotions in treatment of depression

So can fostering feelings of connection and nurturing positive skills—as opposed to just limiting negative thought patterns—reduce suicidal plans and death fantasies? 

This is a great question and at the heart of what positive psychology aiims to serve. Normal is not enough. Thriving is the goal. While we have many tools that have truly helped in targeting suicidal ideation, The Greater Good Society explores how positive emotions can be leveraged in treatment of depression and suicidal ideation. 


While it is easy to make fun of the “turn the frown upside down” approach and scoff at “happy therapy” when it comes to treating very real mental health issues, the article does highlight two key studies targeting Graitutude, Grit and Forgiveness. 



Calvin and Hobbes inspire Happiness

Calvin and Hobbes launched in my senior year in high school. Never acused of being too cool for school, I adored the little man’s antics and philosophical queeries to his tiger. Bill celebrated the Child’s immagination before society has beaten it out of him, Character Building dad’s, brave mothers, teachers and babysitters who will have their revenge, slimy girls and deep friendships with tigers. He tooks us back to our day dreams and reminded us to invent our own rules because with out it how can you play Calvin Ball? Bill gave the commencement speech at Kenyon College back in 1995. Poignant. Inspired. A few months latter he retired Calvin and his world: “I will be stopping Calvin and Hobbes at the end of the year. This was not a recent or an easy decision, and I leave with some sadness. My interests have shifted, however, and I believe I’ve done what I can do within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels. I am eager to work at a more thoughtful pace, with fewer artistic compromises.”
Now, Cartoonist Gavin Aung Than, of Zen Pencils, hasn taken the key elements of that speech and set them to a Bill Waterson stylized comic strip complete with Dinosaurs, red wagons and otherwroldly landscapes (although lacking any tiger).  This panel is a celebration that living life authentically, being true to your own values, is the path to happiness. From Gavin’s profile of Bill, we learn that Watterson is not just creative, but persistent and full of intergirty. His comic strips reveal his humor, curiosity and wisdom

Happy hacks by Professor Zaks

Ok, could not resist. Happiness research continues to higher plains of understanding as research specifically looks at exact neurochemicals that contribute to happiness. Dr. Zak has studied Oxcytocin for over a decade in his neuro-economics lab as he sought to understand morales. From his research he made some profound discoveries:

I found that individuals who release the most oxytocin — I call them “oxytocin-adepts” — were more satisfied with their lives compared to those who release less oxytocin. Why? They had better relationships of all types: Romantic, friendships, family, and they even shared more money with strangers in laboratory experiments. The moral molecule morphed in the happy molecule. Happiness largely comes from other people for social creatures like us.

Note: The ring on the right side is actually seretonin

Oxytocin looks like this: 

Now what hacks did he actually discover?

  • Hug. Touch is powerful, be it with a person or animal. 
  • Recognize and express your observations of other’s emotional states. 
  • Tell people you love them. 

These three actions stimulate release of oxytocin. Why does that matter? Oxytocin helps us connect with others, heal, increase generosity, romance, trust…among its primary function. 

Dr. Zac explains in his most excellent Ted Talke:


Where is the besets, happiest schools?

Singapore of course!

Well, at least according to Buzzfeed, who compared test scores and happy student score:

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s triennial international survey compared test scores from 65 countries. Happiness was ranked based on the percentage of students who agreed or disagreed with the statement “I feel happy at school.” Test scores were ranked based on the combined individual rankings of the students’ math, reading, and science scores.


Personally I question the results. 

One of the best sets of videos on Happiness EVER!

Check out this extraordinary set of videos from Think and Be Happy. It includes a couple of hundred videos featuring top psychologists, educators and buddhists monks. 

Enjoy some past Happiness & Its Causes presentations –  a fabulous mix of leaders in psychology, science, education, business, spirituality, the arts and more! Visit our Think & Be Happy YouTube channel here for more footage.