This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Close Banner
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

The Psychology Of Happiness: 3 Tips To Find (& Maintain) Lifelong Joy

Jason Wachob
Jason Wachob
mbg Founder & Co-CEO
By Jason Wachob
mbg Founder & Co-CEO
Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth.
Image by mbg creative
We carefully vet all products and services featured on mindbodygreen using our commerce guidelines. Our selections are never influenced by the commissions earned from our links.

In a split second, everything can change. Your tiny, everyday decisions (even ones as simple as your coffee order or the route you take to work) can have a ripple effect that expands over time. And the average adult makes around 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day—that's a lot of moments that can potentially alter the course of your life! 

How do you navigate a world driven by such unpredictable forces? Bestselling author Morgan Housel—who recently wrote Same As Ever: A Guide to What Never Changeshas spent some time contemplating this very question. 

As Housel explains on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, the secret to happiness is to not look toward the future but to turn inward—the world may be fragile to chance, but you can control how you respond to it. Below, find a few of his tips to optimize your decision-making and ultimately live your best, happiest life: 


Manage your expectations

Allow Housel to declare: "What really matters for your happiness is not your circumstances; it's the gap between your circumstances and your expectations." Meaning, your mindset may have more power over your abundance than the actual items you own. 

Social media is a perfect representation of this concept. "When you open up Instagram, what most people see is a curated highlight reel of the prettiest, wealthiest, seemingly happiest people in the world," Housel explains. "If you scroll through that every day and you anchor your expectations to that, even if your life is objectively pretty good, it's easy to fall into this spiral of despair. Even if you're doing well, if your expectations are rising by even more, it's never going to feel great." 

As you gain success, your definition of success increases, so you're never truly satisfied. The key, says Housel, is to accept the fact that improving your circumstances won't result in lasting happiness. Manage your expectations, however, and you'll likely feel content.


Focus on gratitude 

Housel is a big fan of gratitude journals. Gratitude, after all, actively counteracts our negativity bias1 and promotes positive thinking. 

And it doesn't have to be too complicated: "At the end of every day, just [write], I'm so thankful for this and that, and this and that," he shares. "When you do that, without even knowing it you're managing your expectations and being grateful for what you already have rather than just dreaming about what you could have in the future." 


Enjoy the mundane 

Pockets of joy exist everywhere—even in seemingly mundane moments. To recognize the happiness in your everyday life, Housel recommends asking yourself this question: What are you going to do today that 20 years from now you're going to have nostalgia for? 

Chances are, those moments aren't big and sparkly but actually quite ordinary. For example, let's say you're waiting in line at a rental car company. Pretty mundane, right? 

Now, "Imagine you're 90 years old, and you're on your deathbed," Housel explains. "Somebody gives you a time machine and says, 'You can go back and experience a moment in your previous life—the moment you get to experience is standing in the rental car line. If you had that opportunity, you would be so grateful for your ability to stand, to see the sunshine, and to talk to other people." 

It's a different form of gratitude, he adds, in appreciating what you're doing in the exact moment. "So, what's the mundane task today that I'm going to be nostalgic for in the future?" Housel poses. Perhaps it's grocery shopping with your partner, driving your kids to school, or walking your dog around the block. Whatever it is, try to cherish it for its simplicity. 

The takeaway 

Overall, your true happiness lies in, well, you. According to Housel, the world is far too unpredictable to rely on external forces for your long-lasting happiness. But when you manage your own expectations, find gratitude for what you do have, and find simple pleasures, the world really is your oyster.

We hope you enjoy this episode! And don't forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, or YouTube!

Jason Wachob author page.
Jason Wachob
mbg Founder & Co-CEO

Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth. He has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Vogue, and has a B.A. in history from Columbia University, where he played varsity basketball for four years.