By Eric Barker
June 2, 2016
IDEAS
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

There’s no shortage of advice on how to live a great life. Research has answers… but, frankly, who can remember them all?

What do you need to do to be happy? What attitude should you take toward life? How can you reduce stress and be gritty? What makes for a loving relationship?

It’s exhausting… I’m here to make it simple. Just remember one word: SOCC.

(Yeah, it’s a made-up word, but work with me here, okay?)

So what’s it mean?

  • Sappy
  • Optimism
  • Control
  • Communicate

A missing sock is frustrating. But missing SOCC is far, far worse. Time to learn how to get more of it and how it can lead to a happy, fulfilling, spectacular life.

Let’s get to it…

1) Sappy Means Happy

A lot of the advice on being happier is sappy. But science says that sappy stuff works. It may produce eye-rolling, but it actually does produce smiles as well.

“Take the time to appreciate something beautiful” sounds like the slogan you’d see on a mug you’d quickly shove to the back of the cupboard. But it also produces a 12% boost in life satisfaction.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

“Help someone today” seems like it should be a bumper sticker on a VW bus parked in the Haight-Ashbury district, circa 1965… but mentoring can produce a 29% boost in feeling your life is meaningful.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

Watching cat and puppy videos online gets a lot of flack. But animals do make us happier. And people with a pet they love are 22% more satisfied with their lives.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

No, I’m not going to say anything about unicorns or rainbows. But hugs? Oh, science gives those a big thumbs up.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

If it sounds a little silly, it might just make you happier. So be sillier.

(To learn the things neuroscience says will make you happy, click here.)

Alright, puppies and hugs are scientifically validated. Sappy works. What about the O in SOCC? What’s the attitude you need for a great life?

Related: How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert

2) Optimism

If you don’t have a very good reason to focus on the negative, think positive. You’ll be almost 30% more likely to feel happy.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

And research also shows optimists live longer. (I mean, c’mon, if the future looks great, might as well stick around longer, right?)

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

We all want others to support us. And people are more likely to be optimistic about your success when you’re optimistic about it, too.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

(Want to learn how to be more optimistic? Click here.)

Now that you’ve got your rose-colored glasses on, let’s find out which feeling makes you stress-proof and gritty…

Related: New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy

3) Control

How does “66% more likely to be happy” sound to you? Okay, then you want a feeling of control over your life.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

Feeling in control is the antidote to stress. And the good news is, you don’t have to be in control, you just have to feel in control.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

And if you want to be grittier and achieve your goals, do whatever gives you that feeling of control.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

I know what some of you are thinking: Sounds nice, but how the heck do I make sure I feel in control?

Answer: Don’t let your worries stay vague and scary. Get specific with your plans on how to handle things.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

(To learn what Harvard research says will make you happier and more successful, click here.)

Okay, last one. Everything so far has been about your behavior and your attitude. But there are these things out there that can complicate your life dramatically…

Some call them “people.” But they can also be the key to happiness. What’s the way to a long-lasting, loving relationship that makes life awesome?

4) Communicate

Sharing your innermost thoughts with a partner is associated with a 62% greater likelihood of a happy marriage.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

Now sometimes communicating means fighting. But, ironically, a lot of that negative communication actually comes from not communicating enough.

Unspoken expectations of your partner leads to screaming matches.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

Arguments are no fun — but even that form of communication is better than none. No fighting = 35% more likely to divorce.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

But when you fight, observe Geneva Convention rules. No war crimes. Yeah, you’re disagreeing, but stay compassionate.

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Guess what? She’s right. Research shows a lot of people forget what fights were about… but they remember how their partner made them feel.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

It’s okay to disagree. But don’t make that special someone feel awful.

(To learn the 4 most common relationship problems — and how to fix them, click here.)

SOCC. That’s all you need to remember. Time to round up what we learned and find out the thing you’re doingright now that is getting in the way of your life being more awesome…

Related: New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Be More Successful

Sum Up

For a spectacular life, remember SOCC:

  • Sappy means happy: Hugs, puppies, and helping. Corny? Maybe. But quite effective.
  • Optimism: It leads to a longer, happier life and more support from loved ones. Brighten up, Eeyore.
  • Control: Be concrete about your plans and feel in control to be stress-proof and gritty.
  • Communication: Talk more for a happier relationship. They remember how you made them feel.

And what’s holding you back from earth-shattering joy right now? Oh, that one’s easy…

You’re on the internet. Spending too much time on the information superhighway kills happiness as much as being stuck in traffic on a not-so-super highway.

From The Simple Secrets for Becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise:

Okay, internet time is over. Let the hugging begin…

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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