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The No. 1 Psychologist-Approved Tip You Need To Find Lifelong Happiness

Beauty & Health Editor

By Jamie Schneider

Beauty & Health Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

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We’ll wager everyone wants to be a happier person. Well, take it from Morgan Housel: Finding lifelong happiness isn’t about creating as many big, sparkly moments as you can. Rather, as the bestselling author shares on the mindbodygreen podcast, it requires leaning into smaller habits and finding joy in the mundane. Pockets of joy exist everywhere—so find happiness in those everyday interactions. 

To easily identify what daily habits bring you joy, he recommends asking yourself this question: What are you going to do today that 20 years from now you’re going to have nostalgia for? 

How to gauge your life happiness 

Chances are, your answer to this question will be quite ordinary. For example, think about waiting in line at a rental car company, he suggests. You might feel bored or even irritable from the slow pace. 

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.” 

Point being: You don’t need the time machine to appreciate what you’re doing in that exact moment. According to Housel, it functions as a different form of gratitude (and gratitude, we know, makes you happier1). 

“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. 

Award-winning Harvard psychologist and mindfulness researcher Ellen Langer, Ph.D., provides a similar sentiment: “Everything can be fun, or enjoyable, or at least interesting,” she says during her mbg podcast episode.

She encourages switching up your daily routine and trying to make even the smallest activities entertaining when you can—like, say, washing the dishes or sprucing up your home. When you find happiness in these smaller moments, your life becomes more joyful overall. 

The takeaway 

Finding lifelong joy” sounds like a tall order—so why not break it up into smaller pieces? Those smaller mundane moments can add up and help you become a happier person overall. So we repeat Housel’s question: What are you going to do today that 20 years from now you’re going to have nostalgia for? Chances are it’s an everyday habit.

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