The key to happiness is obviously a whole lot more complicated than simple addition (x+y=joy). But maybe a “happiness equation” isn’t such a far-fetched idea: In fact, researchers at the University College London have developed a formula to accurately forecast the happiness of more than 18,000 people, Time.com reported.
A big part of the equation had to do with expectations: low enough so you aren’t disappointed, but high enough that you have something to look forward to.
While the formula is still too complicated for everyday application (you can see what it looks like here), plenty of other recent studies offer quick, simple strategies for improving your happiness, no math required. We rounded up a few:
1. Log off Facebook (and phone a friend). More likes don’t necessary add up to more happiness,according to research from the University of Michigan. The more the study participants (82 young adults) used Facebook over a two-week period, the more their life satisfaction levels declined. In contrast, the researchers found that direct interactions with others—whether it be over the phone or face-to-face—actually helped people to feel better over time.
2. Focus on people, not things. For a Swedish study published last year in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, researchers found that “people words”—like the names of celebrities, family members or even just a personal pronoun (you, me, us, or them)—were more likely to appear in daily publications alongside the word “happiness.” Articles with words like “iPhone,” “millions,” and “Google” almost never had the word “happiness” in them.