Charts & Graphs

If You Want to Be Happy…

A panel of experts reveal the key to contentment.

  • …spend wisely

    • A photograph of Suze Orman. She has gold earrings and short blond hair.Once your finances are in shape, you’re bound to be happy.

      —Suze Orman, personal-finance adviser, 2004

    • A depiction of Samuel Johnson.There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.

      Samuel Johnson, essayist, 1776

    • A photograph of Nancy Line Jacobs.If you enjoy your work and your life, you are rich. If you aren’t happy with either, how can money help?

      —Nancy Line Jacobs, lifelong advice-column fan, 1994

  • …connect with others

    • An image of Napoleon Hill.The only way to get happiness is by giving it away.

      —Napoleon Hill, self-help author, 1928

    • A cartoon of a Japanese man wearing a baseball cap.If you maintain a kind of balance sheet for each person, keeping track of exactly how much each person ‘owes’ you, then the value of the goodwill evaporates. The reward of benevolence should come from the satisfaction of knowing that you have made another person happier. This is the way to true happiness.

      —“Jinsei Annai,” Japanese advice column, c. 1991

    • A detail from the cover of the Journal of Happiness Studies. A green background with black text that reads Journal of Happiness Studies.There is a strong consensus among researchers that positive social experience is one of the most important predictors of happiness.

      Journal of Happiness Studies, 2017

  • …appreciate the little things

    • A detail of a ladies home journal magazine cover form 1946.If you can honestly say that you get along well with your family without worrying too much about them, that you get satisfaction from your work from day to day, and that you ‘feel good’ most of the time, you already possess the main elements in happiness.

      Ladies’ Home Journal, 1946

    • A photograph of Oscar Wilde.With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy?

      Oscar Wilde, Irish wit, 1897

    • A photograph of Yanni.For me, a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, barefoot on a beach, and I’m happy.

      —Yanni, new age musician, 2009

      • …just be happy

        • An image from a manuscript showing a man wearing a scarf on his head and mixing something in a bowl.Mix together one measure each of ‘tomorrow may be better’; ‘it could have been worse’; ‘it is easier for me to be content with what I have’; and ‘if I am not content, it does no good and makes things more difficult.’ Put this royal remedy in the mortar of patience, pound it with the pestle of ritual, and sift it through the silken sieve of resignation. Every day at dawn, swallow two spoonfuls with the water of ‘what can one do?’—and then be content without doubt.

          —Persian allegorical recipe for the “drug of contentment,” c. 1000

        • An image of Dale Carnegie.Force yourself to smile. If you are alone, force yourself to whistle or hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were already happy.

          —Dale Carnegie, public-speaking guru, 1936