I’ve spent the last five years studying happiness. My goal has been to translate psychology and philosophy into exercises for happiness. Through this process, I discovered that happiness means connecting well with existence and that there are five ways (or muscles) that help you do it:

1. Honesty

Before you start doing anything to increase your happiness, it makes sense that you also stop doing anything that decreases it. Dishonesty decreases happiness.

So, start paying attention to the specific vocabulary you are using—often unconsciously—in everyday conversation. There are certain words that instantly turn what you are saying into a lie. The two biggest culprits are always and never. I call this “always neverland.” Phrases like this come up a lot in relationships:

“You never listen”— lie.

“You always forget to take the trash out”—lie.


More often than not, these are exaggerations, and exaggerations are lies, plain and simple—unintentional though they may be. Lies demoralize (think “de-moral-lies”). The more specific you can be, the more truthful you can be, the less demoralizing your language is, and the better your connection to existence will be.

That’s a nice little warm-up.

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