They catch up with their friends

The Danes have a name for spending time with loved ones: hygge (pronounced “hooga”), which basically means cozy togetherness with friends and family. In our hectic lives, it can be tough to plan a regular night out with pals. But you can try to squeeze small doses of catch-up time into your existing schedule: Pick up the phone rather than log on to Facebook. Stop to chat with your colleagues by the coffee pot. Take a moment to check in with your neighbor when you bump into each other in the street. These small efforts make socializing a natural part of your day.

They’re turning off the TV

Connecting with family, running errands by bike, eating lunch in the park—all of that leaves little time for zoning out in front of the tube. And that’s a very good thing, says Buettner. He worked with National Geographic to create the True Happiness Test, an online survey that has collected data on the habits of 150,000 people. (You can take the test for free at bluezones.com.) The results show that those who report feeling the most joy watch just 45 minutes of TV a day. “If TV comes at the expense of socializing, staying in shape, or activities like volunteering, you’re trading diamonds for rhinestones,” Buettner says. In other words, while binge watching House of Cards may feel relaxing in the moment, it won’t do you much good in the long run. Playing in the yard with your dog, or meeting a friend for tea? Those are small but vital steps toward happy.

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