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The Science of Happiness

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Jan 27, 2012

Mind-Body-Spirit News

While many think of happiness as elusive or random, you can learn daily methods for optimizing your joy and improving your well-being. A growing body of research in the field of positive psychology supports using specific techniques to increase gladness and life satisfaction. Practices that can enhance your daily pleasure include the following:

  • Single-task. Avoid doing several things at once. Overstimulation dilutes your ability to savor what you’re doing.
  • Celebrate. Take time to appreciate the satisfaction of your accomplishments and share it with others.
  • Slow down. Spend more time on gratifying activities, and limit less satisfying tasks to just the essentials.
  • Underdose. Refrain from going overboard. Too much of a good thing is overstimulating and reduces pleasure.
  • Share the moment. Do activities you enjoy with people you like.
  • Set goals. Give yourself goals—and then work toward them. Happiness is increased when you reach for and achieve objectives.
  • Remember well. Spend time recalling and relishing happy moments.
  • Think ahead. Plan fun future activities and envision your enjoyment.

All of these techniques can be improved with practice. The findings are discussed more fully in Harvard Medical School’s Special Health Report “Positive Psychology” (September 2011), available at

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at