How to Build a Happy Life

In our pursuit of a happy life, we build, we structure, and we plan. Often, we follow conventional wisdom and strategize. But what happens when our plans fall through and expectations don’t meet reality—when the things that should make us happy don’t? 

In season 3 of our How To series, Atlantic happiness correspondent Arthur Brooks and producer Rebecca Rashid seek to navigate the unexpected curves on the path to personal happiness—with data-driven insights and a healthy dose of introspection.

This series was produced by Rebecca Rashid and hosted by Arthur Brooks. Editing by A.C. Valdez and Claudine Ebeid. Fact-check by Ena Alvarado. Engineering by Matthew Simonson. If you have any questions, stories, or feedback, please email us at

A New Formula for Happiness
The happiness we seek may require investing earlier than we think—and may help us align our expectations and reality at the end of life.
26 min
The Right Choices in Parenting
When parents avoid the complexities of independent decision making, they may fail to understand where analysis remains crucial.
35 min
Subtraction as a Solution
Subtraction can be an overlooked solution in a culture of accumulation. But having less can create the space we didn’t know we needed.
22 min
How to Spend Time on What You Value
We use our time to race against the clock of productivity—which may be the one thing that holds us back from enjoying the free time we crave.
31 min
The Complexities of Human Love
Tech may not be responsible for all the woes of modern love and human connection—but it may reflect our innate desire to find simple solutions to complex problems.
25 min
When Virtues Become Vices
When addictive behaviors override our desires, it may be a sign to investigate the gap between what we crave and what’s really good for us.
29 min
How To Season 3: When Expectations Don’t Meet R...
The building blocks for realigning expectations and reality in happiness.
2 min
How to Forgive Ourselves for What We Can’t Change
Regret As a Catalyst for Change
29 min
The Misgivings of Friend-Making
Why Is It So Hard to Make a Friend?
37 min
When Can a Marriage Be Saved?
How to Know When It’s Time to End a Relationship
38 min
When Partnership Is Not the Destination
Happily Ever After Starts With Singlehood
29 min
'Parents Are Not All Good and All Bad'
Starting Over With the People Who Raised You
27 min
Starting Over When You Think It's Too Late
How to Make the Most of Midlife Malaise
30 min
Introducing: How To Start Over
Your one-stop shop for navigating the challenges of changing your life.
2 min
How to Build a Happy Life: How to Identify What...
How to Have Fun, Experience Satisfaction Through Purpose, and Find Joy In Everyday Life
39 min
How to Build a Happy Life: How to Live When You...
The Path Forward in Struggle and The Paradox of Human Happiness
47 min
How to Build a Happy Life: How to Find the Secr...
Working Towards Happier Days at Work
38 min
How to Build a Happy Life: How to Know That You...
Staying Present and Breaking the Illusion of Stability
35 min
How to Build a Happy Life: How Not to Be Your O...
What It Means to Be Yourself
32 min
How to Build a Happy Life: How to Know You're L...
Loneliness, Lending a Hand, and Living Life Around People
38 min
How to Build a Happy Life: How to Be Self-Aware
Manage Your Feelings, So They Don't Manage You
34 min
Introducing: How to Build a Happy Life
The Atlantic's new show on all things happiness, featuring Arthur Brooks
2 min