The more persistently we chase happiness, the less chance we have of finding it. That’s the conclusion a happiness expert has drawn from his research. And here’s what he suggests in return.

Many studies show: the key to happiness is a clear understanding of your goals. From childhood, we are taught that we should set the bar high and find fulfilment in a successful career, achievements and victories.

In fact, this preoccupation with results prevents us from being happy, says Raj Raghunathan, author of ‘If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Unhappy?’.

The first time he thought about it was at a meeting with former classmates. He noticed that the more obvious were the successes of some of them – career advancement, high incomes, big houses, exciting trips – the more dissatisfied and confused they seemed.

These observations prompted Raja Raghunathan to conduct a study to understand the psychology of happiness and to test his hypothesis: the desire to lead, to be an important person, to be needed and wanted only hinders psychological well-being. As a result, he derived five essential components of happiness.


In the pursuit of future happiness, we often forget to properly prioritise the present. While many of us recognise that it is more important than career or money, in practice we often sacrifice it for other things. Keep a sensible balance. There’s no need to agonise over how happy you are – do what makes you feel happy in the here and now.

Where to start

Think about what makes you feel happy – a hug from loved ones, a holiday in nature, a good night’s sleep or something else. Make a list of such moments. Make sure they are constantly present in your life.


Never blame others for not making you feel happy. After all, it is actually up to you. We are all capable of controlling our thoughts and feelings, regardless of how external circumstances play out. This feeling of control makes us feel freer and happier.

Where to start

A healthy lifestyle can help you gain self-control. Start taking care of yourself: increase your physical activity a little, eat at least one more fruit a day. Choose the types of exercise that work best for you and make you feel better, and incorporate them into your daily routine.


If happiness for you is connected with the feeling of superiority over someone else, you are doomed to feel disappointment every now and then. Even if now you manage to beat the competition, sooner or later someone will surpass you.

At the very least, age will begin to fail you

Comparing yourself to others may seem like a good way to motivate yourself: ‘I’m going to be the best in my class/company/world!’ But that bar will keep shifting, and you’ll never be a perpetual winner.

Where to start

If you measure yourself by others, you will inevitably dwell on your own shortcomings. So be kind to yourself – the less you compare, the happier you’ll be.


Most of us have at least occasionally experienced a state of flow – an inspiring experience where we are so caught up in something that we lose sense of time. We don’t think about our social role, we don’t evaluate how well or poorly we’re doing in the endeavour we’re immersed in.

Where to start

What do you have an aptitude for? What kind of work are you truly passionate about, inspires you? Running, cooking, journaling, painting? Make a list of these activities and make time for them regularly.


The Happiness Index is higher in countries or communities where people trust each other. When you doubt whether a shop assistant is counting your change correctly or fear that a fellow traveller on the train will steal something from you, you lose your peace of mind. It is natural to trust family and friends. Trusting strangers is a different matter. It is a measure of how much we trust life itself.

Where to start

Learn to be more open. As a practice, try talking to at least one stranger every day – on the street, in a shop… Focus on the positive aspects of the interaction, rather than the fear that strangers can be a nuisance.