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Build in more happiness

Paul Dolan, professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, explains how easy it is to incorporate more of the things that bring you joy into your daily life

by Anita Chaudhuri

make more time for what makes you joyful

Most of what we do is through habit and automatic processes, explains Dr Paul Dolan, but the good news is we can take advantage of these unconscious processes to make life easier – and happier.

Once you know what makes you happy, create some zero-effort systems to build more of that happiness into your daily life, he suggests.

Try the following model with whatever that is for you – film, sport, live music – here he uses the example of someone who gets great joy from reading. Apply this simple system and watch your life improve:

  1. PRIMING: Put books in every room of your home.
  2. DEFAULTS: Set the home page on your web browser to GoodReads.com
  3. COMMITMENTS: Make a date to go to a literary event with a friend who shares your love of reading and books, say one evening a month
  4. SOCIAL NORMS: Join a Facebook book club

Paul Dolan is the author of Happiness By Design, which is published by Allen Lane

More inspiration:

See Experts share ideas on how to be happy by Becky Walsh on LifeLabs

Read Happiness Clubs: Ten Keys to Happier Living by Vanessa King on LifeLabs

Read Happiness comes from giving, not buying or having by Dr Steve Taylor on LifeLabs

Photograph: iStock