When you cut your finger chopping vegetables and blood spurts every which way, you need a Band-Aid stat. What you don't need at that moment is an explainer on how to chop vegetables.

Similarly, whether you're beleaguered by a bad day at work or the chronic malaise brought on by the cumulative effects of primetime news describing war, plague, racism, climate catastrophe and the dissolution of modern democracy, you need an emotional life jacket immediately, not a tutorial on how to assemble a sailboat from scratch.

While there are myriad ways to feel happier over the long term—such as prioritizing sleep, deciding on a healthier diet and attending therapy, to name a few—these may not help you feel better here and now, so we asked four psychology experts what might.

What is happiness, anyway?

Happiness, for many people, is as elusive as it is misunderstood, in part, because it's so subjective. Reena B. Patel, a parenting expert, licensed educational psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst based in San Diego, said, "Happiness does not have an undervalue definition." Instead, it varies from one individual to another.

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