Looking for the key to happiness? This simple solution has the science to back it up.
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What’s the key to happiness? It’s something we’ve all wondered about.

Maybe you’re one of the 43% of Americans dealing with chronic loneliness and wishing you knew more about how to make friends, keep friends, and escape loneliness.

But knowing where to start finding that happiness isn’t always easy.


Ads often encourage people to chase happiness through material things, like tech gadgets, cars, and clothes — but can you really buy happiness?

Well, according to Amit Kumar, a social psychologist who studies happiness and spending habits, you can actually give your happiness a serious boost by spending your money on meaningful moments.

Photo by Anna Dziubinska/Unsplash.

Kumar is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and has published several studies on the satisfaction people get from their purchases. He and his colleagues have compared experiential purchases like a plane ticket for a vacation to material purchases like electronics.

Kumar says they found that “people derive more satisfaction from experiential purchases like vacations than they do from material purchases like clothing, jewelry, furniture, electronic gadgets, and so on.”

So if you’re considering attending a show, visiting a new country, or taking a road trip, you might want to start packing.

According to Kumar, it’s not necessarily the purchase itself that makes you happy — it’s the memorable experiences that purchase leads to. In other words, your trip or outing will likely lead you to experience new and exciting things that you might remember forever.

And sometimes, what makes that experience memorable is the people you meet along the way and the unexpected connections you make with them.

It’s not like you need a big, dramatic moment to make this kind of connection. The moments of connection can be as simple as opening the door for a stranger, or offering a mint after enjoying a coffee with that long-lost classmate you ran into randomly while exploring a new city. Maybe, on your adventures, you’ll meet a waitress who goes above and beyond for her customers; or maybe you’ll strike up a conversation with someone in line to see that concert you’ve been waiting for all year. Maybe you’ll grab lunch with those hikers who warned you about a bear up ahead on the nature trail.

Photo by Mike Erskine/Unsplash.

Whatever these small moments are, you’ll be talking about them later, telling coworkers, dates, and new friends about that time a road trip led you to someone you might have never met otherwise.

And when you talk about an experience afterward, it lives on — and so do the feelings of happiness you’ve derived from it.

Jesse Walker, who co-authored a study with Kumar, says, “One-time experiences tend to grow sweeter in memory as time passes. Even a vacation that goes terribly wrong in every way often becomes a fond memory.”

So maybe, someday, you’ll even laugh about the road trip with your partner that got you horribly lost and spending the night in that scary hotel you swear was haunted.

Photo by Ivana Cajina/Unsplash.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to ditch material purchases altogether to find happiness — the key is to find some balance. Rather than getting pulled completely into the world of material things, Kumar says, you can put some of your spending money toward experiences, too.

You may even be able to get both at once: For instance, a cell phone with a great camera can give you mementos like photos and videos of good times shared with friends and loved ones.

Photo by Katie Treadway/Unsplash.

So look out for opportunities for those small moments of connection — they can carry a wealth of happiness.

Which means that finding the key to happiness is much simpler than many people think. It’s not about having the right material possessions to make you feel satisfied. It’s more about life’s little moments — sharing an experience and making a connection that leaves you with meaningful, happy memories.

While that may not be your only source of happiness, it’s a great start to help you combat loneliness and find the joy you seek.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.