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Happiness experts reveal the secrets to finding joy even in difficult times


Stress and anxiety during difficult times can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it’s not impossible to fight those feelings and find joy.

Yahoo Life spoke with three happiness experts, and each revealed advice on where to look for silver linings, even when they appear to be nonexistent.

Acacia Parks, Ph.D, chief scientist at Happify Health, says the concept of “happiness” can be broken down into two different parts.

“The first is the emotional piece —it’s not always feeling ‘positive,’ but it’s feeling ‘positive’ more often than you feel ‘negative,’” she says.

“The second piece is cognitive — so it’s how you’re thinking about your life. If you look at your life, do you think that it’s ‘good?’” says Parks. “When we’re talking about increasing happiness, we’re trying to increase one or both of those two things.”

Mark D. Holder, Ph.D, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, says there are physical benefits to maintaining higher levels of happiness.

“People that are happy tend to live 7.2 years longer,” says Holder. “They’re not just living 7.2 years longer, they’re getting 7.2 happy years longer in their life.”

Parks suggests “savoring” small, happy moments in your day to gradually increase your happiness.

“On a busy morning, I might be reading emails while I’m having my coffee, but coffee is my favorite part of the day and I miss it entirely if I’m reading emails,” she shares. “I’m drinking the coffee, but I’m not getting the enjoyment that I would have gotten from it if I just sat and had my coffee. ‘Savoring’ is all about just doing one thing at a time.”

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and host of the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin, says that our connection to others is a key part in maintaining our happiness.

“Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree that the key to a happy life is relationships,” says Rubin.

“We need to have strong, intimate bonds with other people. We need to feel connected, we need to be able to get support — and just as important for happiness, we need to be able to give support,” she adds.

Since “happiness” can mean different things to different people, finding that joy can take many forms.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for happiness,” says Rubin. “Each of us has to figure out ‘what’s my nature? What are my values? What are my interests? What’s my temperament?’”

“Each of us has to figure out our own path,” says Rubin. “We each have to figure out happiness for ourselves.”

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