Belle Beth Cooper puts it all together in one column. She lists the accumulated wisdom on what makes people happier. With each item on her list Cooper summarizes the research that led to the conclusion.
Some of it is obvious. You will be happier by exercising, spending more time with friends and getting more sleep.
A shorter commute makes the list, as does time spent outdoors. It helps if you force yourself to smile, if you meditate, and, perhaps less obviously if you plan a trip and not take it.
The last item on the list comes as something of a surprise: getting older will make you happier.
One study reported:
Researchers, including the authors, have found that older people shown pictures of faces or situations tend to focus on and remember the happier ones more and the negative ones less.
Other studies have discovered that as people age, they seek out situations that will lift their moods -- for instance, pruning social circles of friends or acquaintances who might bring them down. Still other work finds that older adults learn to let go of loss and disappointment over unachieved goals, and hew their goals toward greater wellbeing.
Cooper’s article is well worth a read. Hopefully, most people will take its precepts as rules to live by. It's a lot better than trying to do it with psychopharmacology.