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Arthur Brooks: Three Paths Toward the Meaning of Life
Posted: November 2, 2023 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

“Who in the world am I?” asks Alice in Wonderland. It turns out that business school has a useful theory to help you answer that. At business schools, scholars of entrepreneurship generally follow one of two basic theories of how enterprises start. The first, called the discovery theory, holds that the universe is filled with opportunities, ...

Arthur Brooks: I Love Candy. But Does It Make Me Happy?
Posted: October 26, 2023 at 07:00 AM (Thursday)

The question of whether sugar is simply a treat or actually a nasty trick goes way beyond Halloween. I love Halloween. It’s not the costumes and parties and pumpkins—they’re fun, but I don’t care so much about any of that. What I love is being able to snack openly on candy corn, Necco Wafers, and Squirrel Nut Zippers without judgy looks ...

Arthur Brooks: Make Yourself Happy: Be Kind
Posted: April 27, 2023 at 08:00 AM (Thursday)

">How to break the negative feedback loop that can make us act mean. Kindness and niceness, though both excellent personal qualities, are not the same thing. The former is to be good to others; the latter is about being pleasant. They don't even have to go together. Some say, for example, that New Yorkers are kind but not nice ("Your tire is ...

Arthur Brooks: A Crucial Character Trait for Happiness, Don’t curb your enthusiasm.
Posted: April 20, 2023 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

One of my friends, more so than anyone else I know, has a remarkable power to make the people around him happy. He does this not through beer or flattery, but simply through the power of his personality. He is extroverted, conscientious, agreeable–all the traits that psychologists predict will attract a lot of friends. But there's one ...

Arthur Brooks: The Not-So-Secret Key to Emotional Balance
Posted: April 13, 2023 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Crying can help you keep your feelings in check. It’s also inextricably bound up in spirituality. A dear friend of mine whom I recently lost spent most of his life near the Severn River in Maryland. The Severn is technically a "tidal estuary"–a brackish inlet off the Chesapeake Bay, where salt water mixes with fresh. "It's the most human ...

Arthur Brooks: How Smart People Can Stop Being Miserable
Posted: March 24, 2023 at 06:00 AM (Friday)

Intelligence can make you happier, but only if you see it as more than a tool to get ahead. "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know," an unnamed character casually remarks in Ernest Hemingway's novel The Garden of Eden. You might say that this is a corollary of the much more famous "Ignorance is bliss." The latter ...

Arthur Brooks: Make a To-Don’t List
Posted: March 16, 2023 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

When you’re feeling stuck, focusing on the things you hate can help. How are your New Year's resolutions going? Perhaps that's a sore subject. Resolutions usually fail, sometimes even in the first few months of the year (one study found that half dissolved after three months), so odds are good that yours have too. If so, don't feel too ...

Arthur Brooks: Mixed Feelings Can Be Worse Than Bad Ones
Posted: January 19, 2023 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Feeling conflicted can be even more distressing than feeling bad. Here’s how to manage it. "Ōdī et amō," the Roman poet Catullus wrote of his lover Lesbia about 2,000 years ago. "I hate and I love. Why I do this, perhaps you ask. I know not, but I feel it happening and I am tortured." Maybe you can relate. If you've ever had mixed feelings ...

Arthur Brooks: America Is Pursuing Happiness in All the Wrong Places
Posted: November 16, 2022 at 07:00 AM (Wednesday)

The U.S. is undergoing a crisis of our personal and shared sense of meaning as polarization rises and institutions erode. The solution is as simple as it is difficult: Love one another. Three and a half years ago, I made a hard career pivot. After more than 10 years as president of the American Enterprise Institute–a Washington, ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Make Life More Transcendent
Posted: October 27, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Even if you’re not religious. Traditional religiosity in America has rapidly decreased of late, especially among young people. Surveys consistently show that Millennials and Gen Z adults are less likely to declare any religious affiliation than previous generations, a phenomenon that is often called "the rise of the 'nones.'" Some lament this as ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Stop Being So Envious
Posted: October 20, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

In the 13th canto of "Purgatorio" in Dante's Divine Comedy, the 14th-century Italian poet describes the ultimate punishment of people who in life had fallen prey to envy, one of the seven deadly sins. He shows them perched precariously on the edge of a cliff. Because envy started with what they saw, their eyes are wired shut. To avoid ...

Arthur Brooks: If You Want Success, Pursue Happiness
Posted: October 13, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Many people chase achievement, assuming it will lead to well-being. They should reverse that order of operations. Without going too far out on a limb, I believe almost everyone would like two things from their jobs and careers: success and happiness. They want to do relatively well financially, receive fair recognition for their ...

Arthur Brooks: Why We Do Things We Know We’ll Regret
Posted: October 6, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Our instincts often steer us to love things and use people. We need to do the opposite. "We have willfully sinned," millions of Jews around the world prayed in their Yom Kippur Viduy, or confession, over the past week–confession of sin being a core tenet of Judaism (as it is in many faiths). "We have committed evil … we have gone astray, we ...

Arthur Brooks: Technology Can Make Your Relationships Shallower
Posted: September 29, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

But it’s all in how you use it. In 1995, decades before she began assisting with research on this column, Rena Rudavsky and her family were selected to participate in a novel psychology experiment: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University would install a computer in their dining room and connect it to the internet. At the time, only 9 percent ...

Arthur Brooks: Don’t Objectify Yourself
Posted: September 22, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Thinking of yourself as an observer is better for your happiness than obsessing over being observed. One night several years ago, after filling up my car at a gas station and pulling away, I noticed a strange sound behind me in traffic–sort of a metallic clanking noise. It sounded to me like someone was dragging a muffler or bumper, so I ...

Arthur Brooks: 11 Ancient Solutions for Modern Malaise
Posted: September 15, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

The Roman philosopher Seneca’s essay “On a Happy Life” is full of lessons that are as pertinent today as they were two millennia ago. "All men, brother Gallio, wish to live happily," wrote the Roman philosopher and statesman Lucius Annaeus Seneca to his brother around A.D. 58, "but are dull at perceiving exactly what it is that makes life ...

Arthur Brooks: Turn Your Empathy Into Compassion
Posted: September 8, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

As virtues go, empathy is overrated. When empath first entered the English lexicon, it was anything but a compliment. The term was coined in a 1956 science-fiction story about unnaturally empathetic beings that are used to exploit workers. But the word has since taken on more positive connotations and today might even be worth putting on ...

Arthur Brooks: Don’t Teach Your Kids to Fear the World
Posted: September 1, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

If you are a parent, your greatest fear in life is likely something happening to one of your kids. According to one 2018 poll from OnePoll and the Lice Clinics of America (not my usual data source, but no one else seems to measure this), parents spend an average of 37 hours a week worrying about their children; the No. 1 back-to-school concern ...

Arthur Brooks: A Shortcut for Feeling Just a Little Happier
Posted: August 25, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Mental and physical pain share neurological roots. A simple painkiller can help with both. Lately, my back has been hurting. I did something weird in the gym, resulting in a dull ache, and now I'm taking it easy. I appreciate the feedback the pain provides, because I would like to be able to walk upright for a few more decades and don't want ...

Arthur Brooks: Honesty Is Love
Posted: August 18, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Sharing hard truths might be uncomfortable, but it’s a surer route to happiness than hiding them. Think of an opinion that people around you don't know you hold. Now think about what keeps you from sharing it. Perhaps you fear offending others. You wouldn't be alone here: According to a recent survey from the Cato Institute, most ...

Arthur Brooks: To Get Out of Your Head, Get Out of Your House
Posted: August 11, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety. One hundred and sixty years ago, in this magazine, Henry David Thoreau lamented that humankind was losing contact with nature. "Here is this vast, savage, hovering mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard," he ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Embrace Doing Nothing
Posted: August 4, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Absolute idleness is both harder and more rewarding than it seems. In the midst of financial news that seems to get grimmer by the day, one story of a man trying to escape caught my eye. Andrew Formica, the 51-year-old CEO of a $68 billion investment firm, abruptly quit his job. He did not have another job waiting–or anything else, it seems. ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Be Happy in a Recession
Posted: July 28, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

A financial downturn doesn’t have to cause an emotional one. After years of historically loose monetary policy, trillions of dollars in stimulus checks, and supply-chain wreckage during the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that a recession is looming, and may already be upon us. But the fact that it is predictable ...

Arthur Brooks: A Happiness Columnist’s Three Biggest Happiness Rules
Posted: July 21, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

A good life isn’t just about getting the details right. Here are some truths that transcend circumstance and time. More than two years have passed since I became The Atlantic's happiness correspondent. "How to Build a Life" launched on April 9, 2020, as an experiment: Could we reframe the misery and loneliness of the coronavirus pandemic's ...

Arthur Brooks: The Trouble With Zooming Forever
Posted: July 14, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Videochatting may be convenient, but it will never make us as happy as real human interaction. "If, as it is said to be not unlikely in the near future–the principle of sight is applied to the telephone as well as that of sound, earth will be in truth a paradise, and distance will lose its enchantment by being abolished altogether," the ...

Arthur Brooks: The Magic of a Little Danger
Posted: July 7, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

To get happier, be brave, not reckless. "You wouldn't believe it. It's like a wonderful nightmare." This is how Bill Gorton, the hard-drinking veteran in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, describes the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Every year at 8 a.m. on July 7, six full-grown bulls (accompanied by six oxen) chase ...

Arthur Brooks: Don’t Surround Yourself With Admirers
Posted: June 30, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Instead, befriend people who inspire awe in you. When you're admired and well known, "people are always nice to you," the actor Robert De Niro once confessed to Esquire magazine. "You're in a conversation, and everybody's agreeing with what you're saying." Sounds great! Agreement makes life smooth, and the praise and esteem of others gives ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Stop Dating People Who Are Wrong for You
Posted: June 23, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Focus on the long term. Don’t try to replace your ex. Plus three more cures for unhealthy romantic habits. Single people often lament that finding someone to date is hard. According to data from the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of daters say so. And when they fail to find the right person, too many people end up dating the wrong one. ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Make the Baggage of Your Past Easier to Carry
Posted: June 16, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Rewriting the stories you tell about yourself can make for a better future. When people consider making big changes in life–moving cities, changing careers, leaving relationships, quitting jobs they didn't much like–they're usually motivated by one common desire. Upheaval can be worthwhile if it leaves the past behind and creates a future that ...

Arthur Brooks: The Case for Mindful Cursing
Posted: June 9, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Swearing can make you happier, as long as you do it for the right reasons. Americans are profligate cursers. Of every 1,000 words we speak, some linguists have said, an average of five are swears. If you account for the fact that many people don't swear in ordinary speech–one study of university students found that nearly half did not curse at ...

Arthur Brooks: The Perks of Being a Hot Mess
Posted: June 2, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

No one’s judging you as harshly as you judge yourself. Young people today have a habit of describing themselves as a "hot mess." Despite its Millennial-sounding modifier–not just a mess, but a hot one–the term is not new; examples of it go back to the 19th century. As one editorialist from 1899 wrote, "If the newspaper says the sky is painted ...

Arthur Brooks: The Two Choices That Keep a Midlife Crisis at Bay
Posted: May 26, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Middle age is an opportunity to find transcendence. The dirty secret of social scientists is that a lot of research is actually "me-search." Many of us tend to study aspects of life that affect us personally, looking for solutions to our own issues. In that spirit, I celebrated my 58th birthday last week not with a toupee or red sports car, ...

Arthur Brooks: Mindfulness Hurts. That’s Why It Works.
Posted: May 19, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Facing the painful parts of life head-on is the only way to feel at home with yourself. Some years ago, a friend told me that his marriage was suffering because he was on the road so much for work. I started counseling him on how to fix things–to move more meetings online, to make do with less money. But no matter what I suggested, he always had ...

Arthur Brooks: The Key to a Good Parent-Child Relationship? Low Expectations.
Posted: May 12, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Imperfect people can still enjoy a satisfying and healthy bond. Young people "are high-minded, for they have not yet been humbled by life nor have they experienced the force of necessity," Aristotle wrote in Rhetoric. "They think they know everything, and confidently affirm it." When people my age complain about "kids these days," they are ...

Arthur Brooks: Ben Franklin’s Radical Theory of Happiness
Posted: May 5, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Ken Burns grades the Founding Father’s pursuit of a good life. Most of the happiness scholars I cite in this column are living and active, because the scientific study of human happiness, relying as it does on social psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience, is only a few decades old. But the philosophical premise behind this ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Stop Freaking Out
Posted: April 28, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

If you can prevent your emotions from taking over in the face of stress, you can avoid a lot of regret and set a good example for others. Americans are emerging from the pandemic more stressed out and reactive than ever. For example, in a typical year, the United States sees about 100 to 150 cases of "air rage"–passengers becoming violent ...

Arthur Brooks: 10 Practical Ways to Improve Happiness
Posted: April 21, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

For when you need advice that goes beyond “Be Danish”. Here's some very bad happiness advice based on very solid happiness research: Feel important. Be happily married. Be Danish. Depending on how happiness is measured, all of these things really are associated with a happier life. But they're unhelpful because they are not actionable in ...

Arthur Brooks: Sports Are Great Because They’re Pointless
Posted: April 14, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

The most trivial things can build the strongest relationships. Even though I've never lived in Chicago, I have a soft spot for the Cubs. My father grew up in the Windy City and loved the team his whole life. And I loved my dad. So, by the transitive property, I loved the Cubs too. Two decades after my father's death, I am still a fan. Every time ...

Arthur Brooks: A Gentler, Better Way to Change Minds
Posted: April 7, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Stop wielding your values as a weapon and start offering them as a gift. What is the point of arguing with someone who disagrees with you? Presumably, you would like them to change their mind. But that's easier said than done: Research shows that changing minds, especially changing beliefs that are tied strongly to people's identity, is ...

Arthur Brooks: What the Second-Happiest People Get Right
Posted: March 31, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

If you make happiness your primary goal, you might miss out on the challenges that give life meaning. In 2007, a group of researchers began testing a concept that seems, at first blush, as if it would never need testing: whether more happiness is always better than less. The researchers asked college students to rate their feelings on a scale ...

Arthur Brooks: Choose Enjoyment Over Pleasure
Posted: March 24, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Pleasure is addictive and animal; enjoyment is elective and human. In Greek mythology, Eros and Psyche gave birth to a daughter named Hedone. A daemon, or minor deity, she has no myths attached to her, but is known for her one gift to humankind: pleasure. Her gift, however, was also a curse. In Rome, where Hedone was called Voluptas, the ...

Arthur Brooks: Trolls Aren’t Like the Rest of Us
Posted: March 17, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Online jerks and offline jerks are largely one and the same. Here’s how to keep them from affecting your happiness. My friend Peter Attia, a wellness and longevity expert who helps people live better lives, is dreaming up an invention to improve his own: a machine that shocks him with 100 volts of electricity every time he starts to engage ...

Arthur Brooks: Find More Ways to Be an Outsider
Posted: March 10, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Doing so may feel painful, but it’s one of the best investments you will ever make. The world is full of outsiders: students away at a university far from home, immigrants to a new country, and people who go abroad for work or extended travel. Over the past year, more than 4.4 million American workers quit their jobs in the "Great ...

Arthur Brooks: The Kind of Smarts You Don’t Find in Young People
Posted: March 3, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

America needs more than innovation; it needs wisdom. Silicon Valley has a famously youth-dominated culture and economy. According to Business Insider, most employees in the tech industry are in their late 20s. At eBay, for example, the median employee age was 32 in 2017–and eBay is in the older half of the top tech companies. This is a problem ...

Arthur Brooks: Why Success Can Feel So Bitter
Posted: February 24, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Achieving a goal and achieving happiness are two entirely different things. A few days after she became the first female skater to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics, 15-year-old Kamila Valieva fell in her final program, costing her the individual Olympic gold. She wept as she stepped off the ice. Instead of comforting her, her coach ...

Arthur Brooks: The Seven Habits That Lead to Happiness in Old Age
Posted: February 17, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Your well-being is like a retirement account: The sooner you invest, the greater your returns will be. Imagine yourself 10 years from now. Will you be happier or less happy than you are today? I ask my graduate students–average age, late 20s–this question every year. The majority think they will be happier. But when I ask about their ...

Arthur Brooks: The Common Dating Strategy That’s Totally Wrong
Posted: February 10, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Don't Date Someone Who's Just Like You. If you’re looking for romance, stop focusing on what you and your date have in common. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 126.9 million Americans are currently unmarried. If you are in the dating market, that might sound like good news. And yet most "daters"–people who are not in a committed ...

Arthur Brooks: The Problem With 'No Regrets'
Posted: February 3, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

If you never pine for a different past, you’ll stay trapped in a cycle of mistakes. "Regrets, I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention," Frank Sinatra crooned in his 1969 hit "My Way." The song takes its power from a seductive idea: that anyone can just declare that what's done is done in life and move on. Some take the declaration ...

Arthur Brooks: Art Should Be a Habit, Not a Luxury
Posted: January 27, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Just like exercise and sleep, engaging with the arts is a necessity for a full and happy life. If someone asked whether you like the arts, you'd probably say you do–at least in theory. According to the advocacy group Americans for the Arts, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults say the arts "lift me up beyond everyday experiences." Still, only ...

Arthur Brooks: Live Like the Ancient Cynics
Posted: January 20, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Modern cynicism traps you in an unhappy cycle. The original version will set you free. There are a growing number of Marxists today. By which I mean followers of Groucho, not Karl. "Whatever it is, I'm against it," Marx sang in his 1932 film, Horse Feathers. "I don't know what they have to say / It makes no difference anyway." What was satire ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Succeed at Failure
Posted: January 13, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Sometimes you just can’t win. Make the most of it. You wanted it and you worked for it, but all your effort was for naught. Maybe your relationship collapsed, your company went under, or you got fired. Maybe you failed your exams even though you'd studied hard, or couldn't find a publisher for your book, or dropped what would have been the ...

Arthur Brooks: Listen to Your Own Advice
Posted: January 6, 2022 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Guilt, fear, and low self-esteem can stop you from living by your own wisdom. Here’s how to overcome them. In 1896, a man in Dummerston, Vermont, was driven from his beloved home over what should have been a minor family dispute. He generally got along well with his brother-in-law, who lived next door. One day in an argument, however, ...

Arthur Brooks: Give Your Money. Give Your Time. Don’t Tell Anyone.
Posted: December 30, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

You can find deep, lasting happiness in a good deed that no one knows you did. The end of the year isn't just the holiday season; it's also charity season. Estimates of charitable giving indicate that at least 20 percent of all gifts are made in December, when our holiday love for humankind conveniently converges with the end of the tax ...

Arthur Brooks: The Cure for Holiday Blues
Posted: December 23, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

You’ll enjoy the season more if you lower your expectations. "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas," croons the voice stuck in your head after a few minutes in CVS. "Just like the ones I used to know." This Christmas carol, like most, is an anthem for mental time travel. Humans have the ability to project ourselves into the future and past, and ...

Arthur Brooks: Procrastinate This, Not That
Posted: December 16, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Putting things off can improve your performance—if you do it right. Are you putting something off by reading this article? Maybe it's finishing your Christmas shopping. Or making a confrontational phone call. Or writing your fall term papers. Social scientists define procrastination as "delaying a task for a maladaptively long time," and ...

Arthur Brooks: What You’re Really Worried About When You’re Worried About Money
Posted: December 9, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Once you’ve met your most basic needs, an obsession with your bank account might be hiding deeper anxieties. Money is one of the things Americans worry about most in the world. Even in 2018, when the economy was expanding, a survey by the life-insurance company Northwestern Mutual found that more than half of Americans felt anxious or ...

Arthur Brooks: When You Can’t Change the World, Change Your Feelings
Posted: December 2, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Adjusting your attitude is easier than you think. Everyone–even the most privileged among us–has circumstances they would like to change in their life. As the early sixth-century Roman philosopher Boethius put it, "One has abundant riches, but is shamed by his ignoble birth. Another is conspicuous for his nobility, but through the ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Thankful
Posted: November 24, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Wednesday)

Even if you think you have little to celebrate this year, you can—and should—practice gratitude. Thanksgiving was first proclaimed as a national celebration on October 3, 1789, by President George Washington. He declared "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of ...

Arthur Brooks: Quit Lying to Yourself
Posted: November 18, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Real happiness starts with telling yourself the truth, even when it hurts. No one wants to be seen as a liar. Liars are considered untrustworthy at best and immoral at worst. And yet, we are perfectly content to lie to ourselves all the time. "I'll enjoy this sleeve of Oreos today because my diet starts tomorrow," I might tell myself. Or, "I ...

Arthur Brooks: No One Cares!
Posted: November 11, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Our fears about what other people think of us are overblown and rarely worth fretting over. A friend of mine once shared what I considered a bit of unadulterated wisdom: "If I wouldn't invite someone into my house, I shouldn't let them into my head." But that's easier said than done. Social media has opened up our heads so that just about ...

Arthur Brooks: What Winter-Haters Get Wrong
Posted: November 4, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Chasing the sun usually isn’t worth it. Learn to like the climate you’ve got instead. For many years, the rate at which Americans move has been falling. But as remote work has gone from a necessity during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic to an unforeseen employment perk, that trend might be coming to an end. Twenty-two percent ...

Arthur Brooks: The Disguises We Wear Every Day
Posted: October 28, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Hiding your feelings can be freeing. But eventually you have to take off the mask. A pandemic Halloween raises a number of questions about masking. Do we wear our COVID masks under our Halloween masks, or over them? Has the CDC issued guidelines on which costumes can best accommodate an N95 underneath? What will Anthony Fauci and Rochelle ...

Arthur Brooks: Finding the Meaning of Life Is Easier Than You Think
Posted: October 21, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

You can make your quest for meaning manageable by breaking it down into three bite-size dimensions. Want to live in a directed, resolute way? To always know why you're doing what you're doing? There's a simple way to make your dreams come true: Go find the meaning of life! People who believe that they know their life's meaning enjoy ...

Arthur Brooks: Don’t Fall Into the Fame Trap
Posted: October 14, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Even if you have no interest in being a pop star or a president, beware the siren song of prestige. Humans have a bad habit of wanting things that are terrible for us. An abundance of refined sugar rots our teeth and blows out our insulin system. Avoiding exercise can weaken our bones and make us depressed. Seeking ruinous things might seem like ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Break a Phone Addiction
Posted: October 7, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

You can forge a happier relationship with your devices by using them more mindfully. By now, nearly everyone knows we can be addicted to our digital devices. In the words of Anna Lembke, a psychiatrist and an addiction specialist at Stanford, "Just about all of us have a digital drug of choice, and it probably involves using a ...

Arthur Brooks: You Are Not Your Work
Posted: September 30, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Reducing yourself to any single characteristic, whether it be your title or your job performance, is a deeply damaging act. As an economist, I've heard plenty of complex explanations for Karl Marx's famous opposition to capitalism. Fundamentally, though, Marx's reasoning comes down to something simple: happiness. He believed that capitalism ...

Arthur Brooks: Hope Is Better Than Optimism
Posted: September 23, 2021 at 08:51 AM (Thursday)

Optimists believe that things will turn out all right. Being hopeful requires no such assumption. During the Vietnam War, a U.S. Navy vice admiral who was held for more than seven years in a North Vietnamese prison noticed a surprising trend among his fellow inmates. Some of them survived the appalling conditions; others didn't. Those who ...

Arthur Brooks: What I Learned by Taking a 100-Mile Walk
Posted: September 16, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

The transcendent power of pilgrimage comes from its total lack of thrills. Last month, a survey by the travel industry found that a majority of Americans changed their vacation plans this summer because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic. But not everyone canceled their vacations entirely; travel spending has been almost as high this summer ...

Arthur Brooks: Stop Waiting for Your Soul Mate
Posted: September 9, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Love isn’t destiny. That’s what makes it so sweet. Do you believe in true love? Probably so: 94 percent of Americans say they do, according to one 2019 survey by the data-collection company Statista. I am one of them, after 30 years of marriage to my true love. True love isn't too controversial, I think. But a large portion of Americans also ...

Arthur Brooks: There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Job
Posted: September 2, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Your work doesn’t have to represent the most prestigious use of your potential. It just needs to be rewarding. Every year, Gallup asks a sample of American adults what might seem to be a rather loaded question: How much do you like your job? The results may surprise you. The portion who say they are "completely satisfied" at work has ...

Arthur Brooks: The Real Reason Kids Don’t Like School
Posted: August 26, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

But grown-ups can fix it. As a child and young adult, I hated the drudgery of school. I don't remember ever looking forward to a day of class, from kindergarten until I dropped out of college after my first year. Leaving felt like a pardon from the governor. Of course, I'm not so special; plenty of kids are unhappy at school. School is ...

Arthur Brooks: The Perils of Pseudo-Forgiveness
Posted: August 19, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Forgiveness can benefit the offender and the offended alike—but only if you really commit to it. In Robert M. Pirsig's 1974 book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the author describes a device he calls "the old South Indian Monkey Trap." It consists of a hollowed-out coconut with some rice inside, chained to a stake. The coconut has ...

Arthur Brooks: A Little Laugh Goes a Long Way
Posted: August 12, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

How to find more humor in life and steer clear of despair. When I die, I want to go peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror, like the passengers on his bus. If you laughed at that joke, it is because three things happened in your brain in lightning-fast succession. First, you detected an incongruity: You imagined ...

Arthur Brooks: Which Pet Will Make You Happiest?
Posted: August 5, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

A pandemic puppy can increase your well-being—if you choose one for the right reasons. Despite early-pandemic predictions of a deep, prolonged recession, much of the American and world economies are on fire. Housing in particular is booming; house prices increased more than 19 percent from May 2020 to May 2021. Used cars have surged in price ...

Arthur Brooks: What Immigrants Know About Happiness
Posted: July 29, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

The act of migration involves taking risks in pursuit of a meaningful reward, and having faith in the future. Everyone should try to live more like that. The most vitriolic immigration debates tend to be unhappy affairs all around. One side favors looser restrictions on immigrants, typically because of the misery they endure in their home ...

Arthur Brooks: Those Who Share a Roof Share Emotions
Posted: July 22, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Feelings are contagious—but you can help your loved ones when they’re sad without sacrificing your own good mood. “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; / Weep, and you weep alone,” the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote in 1883, in what wound up being her most popular verse. “For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, / But has trouble enough ...

Arthur Brooks: Different Cultures Define Happiness Differently
Posted: July 15, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Well-being is far from universal. Here are four models to help you understand the world—and your own mind. Everyone knows where the happiest people in the world live–the United Nations tells us every single year. For the past several years, Finland has been ranked No. 1, sitting atop the pack of Nordic countries, which are all considered ...

Arthur Brooks: Individualism Can Make You Happier
Posted: July 8, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Self-reliance is about having the freedom to be who you are—not going it alone. The 2021 Academy Award for Best Picture–covering the prior year, when many of us were stuck at home–was awarded, ironically, to Nomadland, a film about a woman who has no permanent home. The movie follows Fern (Frances McDormand), a 60-something widow who lives in ...

Arthur Brooks: The Happy Patriot, the Unhappy Nationalist
Posted: July 1, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Having pride in your country can lead to greater well-being, but only if you do it right. "I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection," Thomas Paine wrote in his pamphlet series The American Crisis. It was December 1776, shortly after the onset of the war for independence, ...

Arthur Brooks: Plan Ahead. Don’t Post. And seven other rules for a happy vacation
Posted: June 24, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Savor the anticipation. Don’t post. And seven other rules to make the most of your post-quarantine getaway. The roots of vegetables … attach them fatally to the ground," the philosopher George Santayana wrote in his 1964 essay "The Philosophy of Travel." "They are condemned like leeches to suck up whatever sustenance may flow to them at ...

Arthur Brooks: Dads Just Want to Help
Posted: June 17, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Sacrificing for their kids makes fathers happier. Acknowledging that sacrifice will make everyone happier. My late father was a generous and kind man, but often morose. He was troubled about matters large and small, be they the fate of the world or the water in the basement. I remember two times when he seemed genuinely happy. The first was ...

Arthur Brooks: The Lie We Tell Ourselves About Going to Bed Early
Posted: June 10, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

To get better sleep, stop treating it like a chore. For many people, the cruelest part of daily life is the transition between wakefulness and sleep. When you should be sleeping, you want to be awake; when you should be awake, you want to stay asleep. It is easy to regard sleep as a torment: hard to attain and then hard to give up, day after ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Escape the Happiness Guilt Trap
Posted: June 3, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

It’s Okay to Feel Happy, Even When Times Are Bad. There’s plenty wrong in the world. Acting gloomy won’t fix any of it. Browse your social media, scroll through your Netflix documentary queue, or turn on cable television, and you will be flooded with reasons to be worried and angry about issues large and small. There is plenty wrong in the ...

Arthur Brooks: Don’t Approach Life Like a Picky Eater
Posted: May 27, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Try new things. Not too much. Mostly experiences. Many parents of young children struggle to introduce new foods into their kids' diets. About half of American children are picky eaters by the age of two; they are, in the vernacular of nutritionists, "food neophobic." Our pediatrician once told me that one of our sons, who was a fussy eater, ...

Arthur Brooks: The Happiness Gains of Going Against Your Instincts
Posted: May 20, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Introverts and extroverts both have something to learn from the pandemic—and from each other. A year before the pandemic changed all of our lives, a friend sent me a link to a survey based on academic research that rates your personality traits on a numeric scale. He was particularly keen to know my extroversion score, to see if the test ...

Arthur Brooks: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Chance to Start Over
Posted: May 13, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

It’s time to prepare for a new and better normal than your pre-pandemic life. Many years ago, I met a woman who had had the kind of experience you ordinarily only find in fiction. As a young adult, she was in a serious car accident, resulting in a head injury. She suffered a period of total amnesia, followed by months of convalescence. When ...

Arthur Brooks: Three Simple Ways to Make Your Mom Happier
Posted: May 6, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Make sure she feels that she’s getting as much out of her relationship with you as she gives. "You are … irritating and unbearable, and I consider it most difficult to live with you." So wrote Johanna Schopenhauer in a 1807 letter to her 19-year-old son Arthur. "No one can tolerate being reproved by you, who also still show so many ...

Arthur Brooks: Stop Spending Time on Things You Hate
Posted: April 29, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Your time on Earth is precious and limited. Here’s how to waste it. The other afternoon, in an effort to avoid doing my work, I picked up Henry David Thoreau's Walden. It turned out to be a fitting choice, as Thoreau has quite a bit to say about wasting time. "The cost of a thing," he wrote in Walden, "is the amount of what I will call life ...

Arthur Brooks: Wishing for Happiness Isn’t Enough
Posted: April 22, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

If you want to improve your well-being, you need to make a plan and act on it. In his 1851 work American Notebooks, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, "Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained." This is basically a restatement of the ...

Arthur Brooks: How to Buy Happiness
Posted: April 15, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

The joys of money are nothing without other people. In 2010, two Nobel laureates in economics published a paper that created a tidal wave of interest both inside and outside academia. With careful data analysis, the researchers showed that people believe the quality of their lives will increase as they earn more, and their feelings do improve ...

Arthur Brooks: The Best Friends Can Do Nothing for You
Posted: April 8, 2021 at 06:20 AM (Thursday)

If your social life is leaving you unfulfilled, you might have too many deal friends, and not enough real friends. Think for a minute about your friendships. Some friends you would text with any silly thought; others you only call a couple of times a year. Some are people you look up to; others you like, but do not especially admire. You fit ...

Arthur Brooks: You Might Not Realize How Much You Miss the Office
Posted: April 1, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Working from home every so often is a convenience, but a fully remote job is a recipe for loneliness. At the end of January, I went back to teaching my students in person for the first time in 10 months. It was only two days a week, and an hour and a half at a time. We were all avoiding contact and wearing masks, so normal human interaction ...

Arthur Brooks: Dream the Possible Dream
Posted: March 25, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Lifelong, hard-to-achieve goals might not make you happier. Small steps will. Commencement season is just around the corner. Whether in person or over a livestream, graduates and their families will follow the long-honored tradition of listening to speeches studded with unoriginal chestnuts like following your dreams, shooting for the stars, ...

Arthur Brooks: Do More Than One Thing
Posted: March 18, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

He who chases two hares might catch neither. But he can at least have a great time trying. On October 20, 1874, in Danbury, Connecticut, a child was born who would grow up to be one of the greatest American composers of classical music. More than a half-century ahead of his time, he combined late romanticism, American folk, and ...

Arthur Brooks: An Open Mind Is a Happy Mind
Posted: March 11, 2021 at 07:00 AM (Thursday)

Rethinking your opinions and admitting when you’re wrong can make you more successful and less anxious. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the psychologist Henry Murray asked a sample of college sophomores to participate in a seemingly innocuous experiment in which they would write their "personal philosophy of life," including their core ...

Arthur Brooks: A Counterintuitive Way to Cheer Up When You’re Down
Posted: March 4, 2021 at 01:11 PM (Thursday)

When you most need to get happier, try giving happiness away. Norman Rockwell painted some of the most iconic images of 20th-century America. His paintings, such as Rosie the Riveter and the Four Freedoms series from World War II, and The Problem We All Live With and Murder in Mississippi from the civil-rights movement, were intended to evoke ...

Arthur Brooks: Go Ahead and Fail
Posted: February 25, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Perfectionism can make you miserable. Here’s how you can muster the courage to mess up. For years, I was haunted by a fear of failure. I spent my early adulthood as a professional French hornist, playing in chamber-music ensembles and orchestras. Classical music is a perilous business, relying on absolute precision. Playing the French horn, ...

Arthur Brooks: What You Gain When You Give Things Up
Posted: February 18, 2021 at 09:11 AM (Thursday)

Voluntarily sacrificing pleasurable things resets your senses and makes you master of yourself. We have just entered the season of Lent, a time to pray and fast to commemorate Jesus's 40-day sojourn into the desert at the beginning of his public ministry. About a quarter of Americans—including 61 percent of Catholics—typically observe Lent ...

Arthur Brooks: Falling in Love Is Misery. Staying in Love Is Bliss.
Posted: February 11, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

When it comes to lasting romance, passion has nothing on friendship. "I think I may have met my future wife," I told my father on the phone, "but there are a few issues." To be precise: I met the woman in question on a weeklong trip to Europe, she lived in Spain, we'd only been on a couple of dates, and we didn't speak a word of the same ...

Arthur Brooks: Individuality Is an Illusion
Posted: February 4, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

The Dalai Lama teaches that we are all interconnected and inseparable from one another. Acknowledging that can make us less lonely, more compassionate, and better investigators of the truth. In the Old Testament, God often communicates with His people through violent events: floods, plagues, wars. But not in the story of Elijah. As the ...

Arthur Brooks: There Are Two Kinds of Happy People
Posted: January 28, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

Some of us strive for a virtuous life. Others strive for a pleasant one. We could all use a better balance. These days, we are offered a dizzying variety of secrets to happiness. Some are ways of life: Give to others; practice gratitude. Others are minor hacks: Eat kale; play a board game. Some are simply an effort to make a buck. I have ...

Arthur Brooks: Stop Keeping Score
Posted: January 21, 2021 at 06:00 AM (Thursday)

She who dies with the most checked boxes wins, right? Wrong. I am an inveterate scorekeeper. I can go back decades and find lists of goals I set for myself to gauge "success" by certain milestone birthdays. For example, in my 20s, I had a to-do list for the decade, the items on which more or less told the story of a penniless musician who had ...

Arthur Brooks: Find the Place You Love. Then Move There.
Posted: January 14, 2021 at 11:00 AM (Thursday)

If where you live isn't truly your home, and you have the resources to make a change, it could do wonders for your happiness. Several years ago, I was sitting on a flight to San Francisco, when my seatmate, a man a little older than me, struck up a conversation. Perhaps you hate it when that happens; I love it. In addition to being an ...

Arthur Brooks: How social distancing could ultimately teach us how to be less lonely
Posted: March 20, 2020 at 03:12 PM (Friday)

As recently as late February, practically no one had ever heard of “social distancing,” the awkward term for staying away from others to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It was introduced by public health officials in the last days of February; by the end of the first week of March, it was trending on social media. By the 12th, it ...

Arthur Brooks: Should I stay, or should I go? Balancing American rootedness and wanderlust.
Posted: February 6, 2020 at 07:00 AM (Thursday)

Would you rather live in a place with a vibrant, dynamic economy, or one with a tightknit community where people know their neighbors? Your first response might be, “Why do I have to choose?” The answer comes in a recent report from the Legatum Institute, a think tank in London, which evaluated the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia ...

Arthur Brooks: Suicide is not someone else’s problem. It’s a problem for all of us.
Posted: January 24, 2020 at 08:00 AM (Friday)

On Friday, Washington was the site of the March for Life, an annual event that focuses largely on abortion, one of the nation’s most controversial issues. There is another life issue that we should pay attention to this year as well, one that might help unite people across the political spectrum: the epidemic of suicide. According to the ...

Arthur Brooks: How to avoid the traps that produce loneliness and isolation
Posted: January 2, 2020 at 04:51 PM (Thursday)

“Hell is other people,” wrote the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre in his 1944 play “No Exit.” Sartre was wrong. Hell is the lack of other people, and according to the health-insurance company Cigna, loneliness and social isolation are rampant in the United States today. About half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone, ...

Arthur Brooks: This holiday season, we can all learn a lesson from Beethoven
Posted: December 13, 2019 at 06:01 PM (Friday)

“For the last three years my hearing has grown steadily weaker . . . in the theatre I have to get very close to the orchestra to understand the performers, and . . . from a distance I do not hear the high notes of the instruments and the singers’ voices.” These are the words of Ludwig van Beethoven in 1801, when he was 30. His 249th birthday ...