My grandmother used to say “Happiness is like fudge: When you want it, you make it yourself.” This is a bit like our editorial mandate for this summer issue: to try to give readers a little joy with these pages.

While researching the subject, I came across The Happiness Lab With Dr. Laurie Santos podcast. Santos is a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University whose “Psychology and the Good Life” course broke the university’s record for enrolment. What struck me most about Santos’ teachings was her assertion that we can train ourselves to be happier. Just as musicians and athletes are constantly training to improve and succeed, we can do the same to be happy. “[Being] happy is not something that’s just going to happen; you have to practise to get better at it,” said Santos in a BBC News interview.

Santos has her students “practise” in five ways. First, every night for a week, they have to write a gratitude list; it’s scientifically proven that this exercise raises one’s happiness level instantly. 

Then she asks them to sleep eight hours a night every night. “It may sound silly, but we know that sleeping more and better reduces the risk of depression and [fosters] a positive attitude,” said Santos. Then she suggests meditating every day for 10 minutes, as studies show that meditation and other activities that engage our full attention can help us become happier.

The last two actions she suggests have been confirmed as being effective by a monumental study on happiness that was conducted by Harvard professors Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz and published in their book, The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. One is to spend more time with family and friends—simple but effective. Finally, and not surprisingly, she suggests replacing social-media scrolling with more personal connections. “The latest research shows that people who use social networks like Instagram the most tend to be less happy than those who don’t use them as much,” says Santos. So, shall we all try to embrace happiness this summer?