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NEW YORK (CBS) ― If money can’t buy happiness, what does?
Happiness is not just a feeling but a science. CBS 2 spoke to the experts to learn not only how to get happy, but how to stay that way.
It was a popular New Year’s resolution for 2010.
But just like losing weight or saving money, resolving to be happy – and staying that way – can be easier said than done.
“Many people feel that being happy isn’t possible – it’s something you either are or you’re not, it’s good luck or it isn’t,” psychiatrist Dr. John Tamerin says.
But experts in the field of happiness, also known as positive psychology, say happiness can not only be learned, it can be mastered – if you know how.
“It’s like deciding, ‘I could be a golfer,’ or, ‘I could learn to ski,’” Dr. Tamerin says.
“One day, it was Christmas Eve 1990, it was around five o’clock – and I realized, ‘I’m happy,’” Happiness Club founder Lionel Ketchian says.
Nineteen years ago, Ketchian, a Connecticut resident, resolved to do everything he could to keep his happy, holiday feeling.
After reading countless books on the subject, he started teaching classes on how to be happy and eventually founded a so-called Happiness Club. There, he happily shared some of the secrets of his success.
“Happiness really does come before my family, because it only benefits them,” Ketchian says. “And that’s when I started to realize that happiness was not a selfish thing.”
Many people, psychologists say, feel guilty about being happy or think they don’t deserve to be happy. But to get and stay happy, first you have to make the choice to do so.
“Once you realize that everything else is an excuse, you either have the excuses or you have the happiness,” Ketchian says.
Next – and this won’t be easy – you have to stop letting difficult people or situations affect every aspect of your life.
“That’s with a teen, or a rough circumstance in life, or a person who is annoying,,” Ketchian says. “We give our power away, so we are left powerless and unhappy.”
Happiness, experts say, is more than a fleeting moment like a bouquet of flowers. To achieve long-lasting happiness, you also need to stop carrying the past forward, live more in the moment and appreciate what you have.
“A lot of marriages are all about right or wrong, ‘I told you so,’” Ketchian says. “You can be happy, or you can be right. It’s very hard to be both all of the time.”
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – it’s the pursuit of happiness,” Dr. Tamerin says. “It’s not easy, but you can pursue it.”
Dr. Tamerin says like losing weight or quitting smoking, there is no quick fix, and that despite having money, material things are just Band-Aids. True happiness, he says, is only achieved through hard work on yourself.
“Part of happy is being strategic and competent and focused on the things that we can do something about,” Dr. Tamerin says. “Another part is accepting the things we can’t do something about and letting go.”
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