Happiness is the sum of hundreds of small things


What are the things we can do to increase our happiness and well-being and of course our children’s?  According to Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert:

“We imagine that one or two things will have profound effect on our happiness. But it looks like happiness is the sum of hundreds of small things….The small stuff matters.”

What has been found is that how good your experiences are doesn’t matter nearly as much as how many good experiences you have.  It is the dozen of mildly nice things that happen to you each day that is likely to make you happier than the single truly amazing thing.  Over time these small things help build up your happiness.

What are some of the little things we can do to increase our happiness?

According to Dan Gilbert:

“The main things are to commit to some simple behaviours – meditating, exercise, getting enough sleep, to practice altruism…and nurturing your social connections”

If Dan Gilbert wanted to predict your happiness and could know only one thing about you, he wouldn’t want to know your gender, religion, health, or income. He’d want to know about your social network—about your friends and family and the strength of your bonds with them.

That’s great news – we all want our children to be happy and it’s every day things that can make a difference. So what can we do, or more importantly what can we encourage our children to do to make themselves happier? Maybe encouraging compassion and helping them understand the value of being a good friend, helping them relax and get the sleep they need and having positive family relationships.

“The things you can do to increase your happiness are obvious and small and take just a little time. But you have to do them every day and wait for the results.”

This may be the challenge – many of us are not good at routine and often expect things to happen instantly.