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There are actually a couple of other happiness-increasing technique that is somewhat non-intuitive, is shown to increase happiness in repeated studies, and is fairly easy to implement and difficult to reverse: Having a dog or cat.

It appears that being needed by the animal makes the human feel as if they have intrinsic value which...I mean it would be nice if we had that without pets but, there it is. If you want the best bang for your buck, I would suggest a small dog or cat from the pound as it will eat significantly less food than a bigger animal.

Another life change that actually effectively increases long-term happiness on average is marriage. This seemed a little too hairy for this video though. Also, DEFINITELY NOT DOSE-DEPENDENT. One spouse...better for happiness. Two spouses USUALLY NOT.

So there you go...get a pet, get hitched, and shorten your commute. You need to get home anyway, so you can feed your dog!

SOURCES:
Homeownership doesn't increase happiness: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/realestate/homeownership-the-key-to-happiness.html?_r=0

Short Commute = $40,000 raise
http://www.npr.org/2011/10/19/141514467/small-changes-can-help-you-thrive-happily

Commuting Linked to Lower Life Satisfaction
https://uwaterloo.ca/recreation-and-leisure-studies/crunched-time-commuting-linked-lower-life-satisfaction

Commuting and Metabolic / Cardiovascular Health
http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(12)00167-5/abstract

Commuting related to lower social activity and lower general trust
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4509867/

10 Things Commuting Does to your Body
http://time.com/9912/10-things-your-commute-does-to-your-body/

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Good morning John. First, I cannot believe it's been 5 years since TFIOS. Life keeps passing us by! Second, I'm sorry to hear about your rib. I have no idea what that must feel like and I hope I never find out. And third, today I want to talk about happiness.

Because we humans are not particularly good at knowing what makes us happy. So some times we have to be told. And of the happiness increasing strategies that I hear about they almost all seem to be either obvious, not well supported by science, difficult to implement, or to only produce short term gains in happiness, not long term.

But there is one thing that I found that hits the golden trifecta here. It has measurable, significant, dose dependant, peer reviewed impact. It's both actionable and passive, meaning that it's something that a lot of people can do and once you do it it's hard to undo and it's non-intuitive, meaning it actually helps to be told because it's not obvious.
     
Your commute to work is a magnificent source of unhappiness, unpleasantness, stress, and even unhealthiness. The commute is rated by most workers as the least pleasant thing that they do every day. Though we are making Dear Hank and John with those people in mind, hopefully it's helping. The happiest commuters commute by bicycle. The least happy commute: alone, in a vehicle, by themselves which is, of course, by far the most common way that we commute.

Commutes over one hour are linked to not just to stress but chronic pain and to high cholesterol. People with long commutes are also less likely to have time for physical leisure and on average spend less time with friends. We often do not consider the magnitude of impact that our commute will have on our lives when we're making big decisions like where we will work and where we will live. Moving closer to work even if it means living in a smaller or more expensive or both place is often the far better decision for personal happiness even though the effects of the larger house or the more money or the better job seems far more present in our minds. The blankness of the commute, this lost time, it's not easy for our minds to consider. According to one study freeing up an hour long commute was the same happiness gain as going from a $60,000 a year job to a $100,000 a year job. People with the longest commutes in one study were found to have the least amount of satisfaction with their lives. While owning a home or moving to a bigger place has been found to have no long term impact on average happiness.

Of course the ability to choose a longer commute is a luxury in its self, a luxury that is not available to everyone. Which is why it's also important that we allow our cities to grow in more dense ways and that those who live in established neighborhoods that are close to where people work don't fight to prohibit dense development which in the course of trying to protect the character of our neighborhoods we often do. If there's no new inventory nearby the jobs there will always have to be more commuting into the jobs. Which is bad for the environment but it's also bad for the people who have to drive 90 minutes each way to work.

Research continually indicates that happiness is not about what we have, but about what we do with the individual minutes and hours and days of our lives. And that can be surprisingly hugely affected by the decisions that we make in urban planning and how we build our cities. And also the individual decisions that individual people make often using faulty decision making processes that our brains aren't really designed for. So just remember that on average, spending upwards of 10% of your waking hours alone in a car, even if you do have the company of Dear Hank and John should be avoided, if it can be.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.

We're doing a thing at DFTBA called the Awesome Socks Club. I'm just a huge fan of weird socks and I can do this with my leg cause I'm flexible, yeah. Can I get them both up there? I can. So these are the socks, these are the first ones. The DFTBA Awesome Socks Club will deliver a new pair of socks to you every single month. You won't know what they will look like until they arrive though but they're gonna be weird.