Is there a proven system for making yourself happier?

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Yes.

We see a lot about increasing happiness these days, including excellent books by Daniel Gilbert, Gretchen Rubin and Martin Seligman.

I was curious about what what led to all this and came upon studies done by Michael Fordyce in 1977 and 1983.

He developed a system of 14 points that showed solid gains in happiness among his students:

The collected findings from all studies indicate that the program has a noticeable and perhaps long-lasting effect on happiness for the great majority of individuals exposed to it and that this effect is due to the content of the information, not merely the artifact of sensitization or expectations about happiness to which it was compared.

Source: “A Program to Increase Happiness: Further Studies.” from Journal of Counseling Psychology, 30(4), 483-498

So what was the system? Here are the 14 points, along with links to relevant info:

Briefly described, the 14 fundamentals are as follows:

(a) keep busy and be more active;

(b) spend more time socializing;

(c) be productive at meaningful work;

(d) get better organized and plan things out;

(e) stop worrying;

(f) lower your expectations and aspirations;

(g) develop positive, optimistic thinking;

(h) become present oriented;

(i) work on a healthy personality;

(j) develop an outgoing, social personality;

(k) be yourself;

(l) eliminate negative feelings and problems;

(m) close relationships are the number one source of happiness;

(n) put happiness as your most important priority.

Yes, some may seem obvious or easier said than done, but we probably aren’t working as hard at many of these at we could.

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