NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – What makes you happy? There is actually a science behind that question.

We all think we know what would make us happier, reports CBS2’s Dick Brennan.

“If I could be able to spend as much time with my family and not have any other responsibilities,” said Adam Oberheim of Virginia.

“Lots of money,” said Richard Williamson of Colorado. “Probably lots of money.”

Researchers say we often miss the mark.

“We have all these intuitions of what will make us happy, more money, getting (a) promotion and then you look at people who get that and they’re not happy,” said Yale University psychology professor Laurie Santos.

Santos, who also hosts The Happiness Lab podcast, identifies specific keys to increasing happiness.

“Stop focusing on the things that don’t matter,” she said. “Money, accolades and so on, and start focusing on the things that do… Make time for social connections make time to be present experience gratitude.”

Santos says we all have something called the psychological immune system that helps us cope with situations that we think will make us unhappy.

“We are more resilient than we think,” she said. “When bad things happen – someone breaks up with you, all of a sudden they weren’t good enough for me, you lose some money in the lottery – you’re like, ‘Ah, I didn’t need it anyway.’ This immune system makes us feel good even when bad things happen we just don’t realize we have it.”

Researchers say getting more sleep, exercising more and being kind are also proven ways to increase happiness.

Another tip: When you’re standing in line, talk to the person next to you, instead of scrolling on your phone. Research shows both people will feel happier after.


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