This One Life Decision Will Make You a 25 Percent Happier Person

Read this before you put a down payment on your new house.

Few goals in life are as worthy as the pursuit of happiness. Unlike that promotion you're seeking or that love interest you're courting, the search for happiness is entirely intrinsic, and as long as you keep your expectations in check, it can only work to your benefit. 

But it turns out that despite all of our efforts to get happy (self-help books! yoga! mindful meditation!), we Americans haven't been very successful. According to one Harris poll, only 33 percent of Americans reported being happy overall in 2017. And it looks like we're on the decline: Between 2007 and 2016, the U.S. dropped from three to 19 on the United Nation's World Happiness Rankings.

Yikes. So what gives?

Well, if you believe the conventional wisdom, it's largely because you're stressed, feeling judgmental, or largely feeling lonely, overworked, or unfulfilled. But if you ask Paul Dolan, a brilliant professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics and Political Science and author of the terrific book Happiness By Design, there's another reason why you're likely unhappy: You don't live close enough to a good buddy.

According to Dolan, people who have a friend who lives within one mile of their home are 25 percent more likely to feel happy than those who don't. 

"People around you influence you much more than you think," Dolan explains in his book. "We are wired, automatically and unconsciously, to mimic and absorb the emotions of others around us… Since other people matter so much to you behavior and happiness, the proximity of your family and friends is something to take into account when thinking about a new job or place to live. A basic starting question for any locational decision should be, 'Where do the people who contribute most to my happiness live?'"

But remember: It doesn't mean you can just move up the block from your BFF and expect your mood to skyrocket. Studies have shown it's actually the going to visit them that results in these positive effects. In fact, having a friend who you see on most days boosts your sense of well-being by the same amount as earning an extra $100,000 a year. 

Crazy, right? So go ahead, block out some time to meet up with your pal. Maybe you can even convince them to move up the street. And for more happiness hacks, check out these 50 Facts About Happiness that Will Change the Way You Think Forever

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