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Your 2024 Happiness Reset With Arthur C. Brooks

Haley Paskalides  |  January 3, 2024

Faith, friendship, family, and work — Arthur Brooks says these are the four pillars of happiness to work on in 2024.

The New Year is a time when many of us take a moment to reflect on how we did over the past year and start planning out our goals for the future. One important goal that many of us have is to find more happiness, and perhaps no one knows this better than Arthur C. Brooks, co-author of Build The Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier (which he wrote with Oprah Winfrey)

This past year on the HerMoney Podcast, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to make our work and home lives more fulfilling and find more happiness wherever we are. Today, more Americans are reevaluating the importance of seeking out joy in our careers and at home. A 2022 Gallup poll indicated that Americans were going through an unhappiness crisis — we were the unhappiest we’d ever been post-pandemic. 

But those numbers are inching upwards. According to the World Happiness Report, the US is now the 15th happiest country overall (slightly higher than number 16 last year). So let’s keep those good vibes going and start 2024 with a clean slate — or a happiness reset if you will. 

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Arthur C. Brooks says the key to happiness starts with focusing on four pillars: faith, family, friendship, and work. He acknowledges that these four don’t hold the same weight in everyone’s lives but the happiest people “put a deposit into them every single day.” He also stresses that the last pillar is not about working to make more money but instead, “earning our success, creating value with our lives and being rewarded for it, and serving other people.”

In terms of serving other people, Brooks stresses the difference between “real friends and deal friends” and emphasizes that only real friends will bring you true happiness. He says a deal friend is the work friend who you see in the office and chat with every once in a while, but it doesn’t go much deeper than that. Real friendships take time and effort (and they’re probably not going to help you get a new job), but the rewards for your mental health are immeasurable. 

LISTEN: Shaping Your Authentic Self

If your #2024goals are focused on money, Brooks warns that carrying debt is the biggest happiness killer of all. The only debt that won’t make you unhappier? Mortgage debt since you’re working towards owning something that will likely increase in value. “The number one gift you can give to yourself in 2024 financially is stop rolling a balance,” Brooks says “Pay off your credit cards. Do what you need to do to get out of debt as much as possible. And you’ll have a much better year.”

In Mailbag, we hear from a listener who got laid off during pregnancy and asks what to prioritize when she’s financially stable again and an aunt who’s curious about how to best help her nephew who was just released from prison. In our money tip of the week, if you’re a Boomer with a paid-off mortgage, now might be a great time to sell


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All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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