Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that while 60 percent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40 percent is up to us.
In his 2004 Ted Talk, Seligman describes three different kinds of happy lives: The pleasant life, in which you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can, the life of engagement, where you find a life in your work, parenting, love and leisure and the meaningful life, which "consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are."
After exploring what accounts for ultimate satisfaction, Seligman says he was surprised. The pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution to a lasting fulfillment. Instead, pleasure is "the whipped cream and the cherry" that adds a certain sweetness to satisfactory lives founded by the simultaneous pursuit of meaning and engagement.
And while it might sound like a big feat to to tackle great concepts like meaning andengagement (pleasure sounded much more doable), happy people have habits you can introduce into your everyday life that may add to the bigger picture of bliss. Joyful folk have certain inclinations that add to their pursuit of meaning -- and motivate them along the way.
They surround themselves with other happy people.
Joy is contagious. Researchers of the Framingham Heart Study who investigated the spread of happiness over 20 years found that those who are surrounded by happy people “are more likely to become happy in the future.” This is reason enough to dump the Debbie Downers and spend more time with uplifting people.
They smile when they mean it.
Even if you’re not feeling so chipper, cultivating a happy thought -- and then smiling about it -- could up your happiness levels and make you more productive, according to a study published in the Academy of Management Journal. It’s important to be genuine with your grin: The study revealed that faking a smile while experiencing negative emotions could actually worsen your mood.
They cultivate resilience.
According to psychologist Peter Kramer, resilience, not happiness, is the opposite of depression: Happy people know how to bounce back from failure. Resilience is like a padding for the inevitable hardship human beings are bound to face. As the Japanese proverb goes, “Fall seven times and stand up eight.”
They try to be happy.
Yep -- it’s as simple as it sounds: just trying to be happy can boost your emotional well-being, according to two studies recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychology. Those who actively tried to feel happier in the studies reported the highest level of positive moods, making a case for thinking yourself happy.
They are mindful of the good.
It’s important to celebrate great, hard-earned accomplishments, but happy people give attention to their smaller victories, too. “When we take time to notice the things that go right -- it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day,” Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. told The Huffington Post in May. “That can help with our moods.” And, as Frank Ghinassi, Ph.D. explains, being mindful of the things that do go your way (even something as simple as the barista getting your coffee order right) can make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment throughout the day.
They appreciate simple pleasures.
A meticulously swirled ice cream cone. An boundlessly waggy dog. Happy people take the time to appreciate these easy-to-come-by pleasures. Finding meaning in the little things, and practicing gratitude for all that you do have is associated with a sense of overall gladness.
They devote some of their time to giving.
Even though there are only 24 hours in a day, positive people fill some of that time doing good for others, which in return, does some good for the do-gooders themselves. A long-term research project called Americans’ Changing Lives found a bevy of benefits associated with altruism: “Volunteer work was good for both mental and physical health. People of all ages who volunteered were happier and experienced better physical health and less depression,” reported Peggy Thoits, the leader of one of the studies.
Givers also experience what researchers call “the helper’s high,” a euphoric state experienced by those engaged in charitable acts. “This is probably a literal “high,” similar to a drug-induced high,” writes Christine L. Carter, Ph.D. “The act of making a financial donation triggers the reward center in our brains that is responsible for dopamine-mediated euphoria.”
They let themselves lose track of time. (And sometimes they can’t help it.)
When you’re immersed in an activity that is simultaneously challenging, invigorating and meaningful, you experience a joyful state called “flow.” Happy people seek this sensation of getting “caught up” or “carried away,” which diminishes self-consciousness and promotes the feelings associated with success. As explained by Pursuit-of-happiness.org, “In order for a Flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success.”
They nix the small talk for deeper conversation.
Nothing wrong with shootin' the you-know-what every now and then, but sitting down to talk about what makes you tick is a prime practice for feeling good about life.A study published in Psychological Science found that those who take part in more substantive conversation and less trivial chit chat experienced more feelings of satisfaction.
"I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings," is one of the top five regrets of the dying -- a sentiment that hints at the fact that people wish they'd spent less time talking about the weather and more time delving into what it is that makes their heart swell.
They spend money on other people.
Maybe money does buy happiness. A study published in Science found that spending money on other people has a more direct impact on happiness than spending money on oneself.
They make a point to listen.
"When you listen you open up your ability to take in more knowledge versus blocking the world with your words or your distracting thoughts," writes David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism. "You are also demonstrating confidence and respect for others. Knowledge and confidence is proof that you are secure and positive with yourself thus radiating positive energy." Good listening is a skill that strengthens relationships and leads to more satisfying experiences. A good listener may walk away from a conversation feeling as if their presence served a purpose, an experience that isclosely connected with increased well-being.
They uphold in-person connections.
It’s quick and convenient to text, FaceTime and tweet at your buddies. But spending the money on a flight to see your favorite person across the country has weight when it comes to your well-being. "There's a deep need to have a sense of belonging that comes with having personal interactions with friends," says John Cacioppo, Ph.D., the director of the Center of Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Social media, while it keeps us in touch, doesn't allow us to physically touch, which harvests the warm-and-fuzzies and even decreases feelings of anxiety.
They look on the bright side.
Optimism touts plenty of health benefits, including less stress, a better tolerance for pain and, as HuffPost Healthy Living recently reported, longevity among those with heart disease. When you choose to see the silver lining, you're also choosing health and happiness.
Seligman summed up perhaps the greatest characteristic of the optimist in one of his most acclaimed books, Learned Optimism:
The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder.
They value a good mixtape.
Music is powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it could match up to the anxiety-reducing effects of massage therapy. Over a three month period, researchers from the Group Health Research Institute found that patients who simply listened to music had the same decreased anxiety symptoms as those who got 10 hour-long massages. Choosing the right tunes could be an important factor, however, as a happy or sad song can also affect the way we perceive the world. In one experiment where researchers asked subjects to identify happy or sad faces while listening to music, the participants were more likely to see the faces that matched the "mood" of the music.Click here for a few of our favorite mood-boosting jams.
Whether by meditating, taking a few deep breaths away from the screen ordeliberately disconnecting from electronics, unplugging from our hyper-connected world has proven advantages when it comes to happiness. Talking on your cell could increase your blood pressure and raise your stress levels, while uninterrupted screen time has been linked to depression and fatigue. Technology isn't going away, but partaking in some kind of a digital detox gives your brain the opportunity to recharge and recover, which -- bonus -- could increase your resilience.
They get spiritual.
Studies point to a link between religious and spiritual practice and mirth. For one, happiness habits like expressing gratitude, compassion and charity are generally promoted in most spiritual conventions. And, asking the big questions helps to give our lives context and meaning. A 2009 study found that children who felt their lives had a purpose (which was promoted by a spiritual connection) were happier.
Spirituality offers what the 20th-century sociologist Emile Durkheim referred to as "sacred time," which is a built-in, unplugging ritual that elicits moments of reflection and calm. As Ellen L. Idler, Ph.D., writes in "The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Spiritual/Religious Practices,":
The experience of sacred time provides a time apart from the “profane time” that we live most of our lives in. A daily period of meditation, a weekly practice of lighting Sabbath candles, or attending worship services, or an annual retreat in an isolated, quiet place of solitude all of these are examples of setting time apart from the rush of our everyday lives. Periods of rest and respite from work and the demands of daily life serve to reduce stress, a fundamental cause of chronic diseases that is still the primary causes of death in Western society. Transcendent spiritual and religious experiences have a positive, healing, restorative effect, especially if they are “built in,” so to speak, to one’s daily, weekly, seasonal, and annual cycles of living
They make exercise a priority.
A wise, albeit fictional Harvard Law School student once said, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." Exercise has been shown to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, thanks to the the various brain chemicals that are released that amplify feelings of happiness and relaxation. Plus, working out makes us appreciate our bodies more. One study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that exercise improved how people felt about their bodies -- even if they didn’t lose weight or achieve noticeable improvements.
They go outside.
Want to feel alive? Just a 20-minute dose of fresh air promotes a sense of vitality, according to several studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. "Nature is fuel for the soul, " says Richard Ryan, Ph.D, the lead author of the studies. "Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature." And while most of us like our coffee hot, we may prefer our serving of the great outdoors at a more lukewarm temperature: A study on weather and individual happiness unveiled 57 degrees to be the optimal temperature for optimal happiness.
They spend some time on the pillow.
Waking up on the wrong side of the bed isn't just a myth. When you're running low on zzs, you're prone to experience lack of clarity, bad moods and poor judgment. "A good night's sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety," Dr. Raymonde Jean, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center told Health.com. "You get more emotional stability with good sleep."
You've heard it before: Laughter is the best medicine. In the case of The Blues, this may hold some truth. A good, old-fashioned chuckle releases happy brain chemicalsthat, other than providing the exuberant buzz we seek, make humans better equipped to tolerate both pain and stress.
And you might be able to get away with counting a joke-swapping session as a workout (maybe). "The body's response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise," explained Dr. Lee Berk, the lead researcher of a 2010 study focused on laughter's effects on the body. The same study found that some of the benefits associated with working out, like a healthy immune system, controlled appetite and improved cholesterol can also be achieved through laughter.
They walk the walk.
Ever notice your joyful friends have a certain spring in the step? It's all about the stride, according to research conducted by Sara Snodgrass, a psychologist from Florida Atlantic University.
In the experiment, Snodgrass asked participants to take a three-minute walk. Half of the walkers were told to take long strides while swinging their arms and holding their heads high. These walkers reported feeling happier after the stroll than the other group, who took short, shuffled steps as they watched their feet.
Kate Bratskeir is an Associate Editor at Huffington Post where this article originally appeared. It is republished here with permission.
Number 1 is false. Happiness is not always appropriate not only day to day, but for the long haul, and most especially when one is faced with losing one's planet, which is the reality for all of us are who are alive and still breathing today on our planet home. Contrary to popular belief, we are creating our world. It is Our planet and Our civilization One by One, and One by One we will have to care, and Do something about it. And, it will not always be easy, or make us happy to do our honorable duty to enlighten, uphold, treasure, and save our world, though we will be filled with great satisfaction, dignity, and peace within our being for doing the right thing, and upholding our small or large part for the cause of truth, justice, and mercy. It will involve paying attention to sorrow more than happiness, the sorrows of every living being and thing on earth. Learning about what not to do in order to save life and love, and even teaching, marching, and protesting what not to do, will never be enough if we never get around to teaching and learning about what to do - what is it that we need to learn and do in order to save life on planet earth and the heart and soul of our own humanity, and to truly live for the first time in human history with real joy and abundance for all peoples and all of life?
Number 1 is hope and courage, not happiness, and there can be many dark nights and days on the brave road of hope. Surround yourself with courageous people who choose to take a stand for hope, those who work to really change this world for the betterment of all, and someday true and exuberant happiness will dawn for all human beings, all human civilization, and all life on planet earth, Our One planet home.
"Let me respectfully remind you -
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by, and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken ...
Take heed. Do not squander your life."
and by Mary Oliver,
"...Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
SMART WORK NEVER KILL SOME ONE>BUT HARD WORK MAKE YOU SMART.
Mischief as a graduate student taught me something unusual. A class of 35 graduate students fomented an argument between our Economics Professor and our Organizational Behavior professor. I will skip the cross discipline insults these professors gave in offense or defense of their disciplines. But, it seems that humans are not cleanly rational as the economic model suggests nor are they driven solely by tribal instincts to team spirit or in fighting.
Struggling to stitch these ideas in to a single picture, I watched drivers on the freeway over a long multi-state drive. I sorted their actions into self-interested, community-interested and simply nuts.
Of 97 events where a decision was made by the driver that I could classify the following break out occurred.
19 were neighborly uses of lane changes, lane merges and responses to posted signs.
18 were simply silly actions on the road.
60 were selfish uses of lane changes, lane merges, ignoring signs for personal advantage.
Statistical note: the 95% Confidence line or luck of the draw is +/- 11 actions in this sample.
Realizing that every tendency of these drivers will at some point occur to me also, this comes to the following more balanced view of myself.
3/16 of my actions are about caring for others.
10/16 of my actions are focused on caring for myself directly.
3/16 of my actions should simply be fun without any need for a reason.
Even noble figures face distress with some form of enlightened self interest.
In Hebrews 12:2, it says of Jesus Christ and his crucifixion the following:
"...For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame..."
Christ knows the long term gain that was worth his pain and acts for our gain and his longer term benefit. (Noble Interest: 3/16 + Long Term Self Interest 10/16.)
console the unhappy,make more happier the happiest,be in contentment,have high ambitions,strive for them.
Fact. Not unplugging can be just as relexaing. It really depends on the individual. Siting on the couch and watching a movie is stress releaving to me and brings my Systolic number down 10-15 points by the end of 90 minutes. Once a movie starts, that I havent already seen, I lose myself in it and forget about everything else that is going on for the length of the movie.
Ive only tested this on myself four times and all four times I've seen a drop in numbers.
@swanra1 Your comments were very provocative; I had to think somewhat about my genes and my behavior. So ----, I put on my favorite corduroys and whistled a happy tune while twirling about.
1 reply: Laura | Post Your Reply
If you fall down seven times , you get up seven times, not eight,
Friends usually describe me as "slightly Exuberant" so I thank you for this post! HUG from my heart to yours! :) And may you seek out some Happiness today. Perhaps in sun shining, puppy play, snow on the tree branches or a song. One of my favorites is Smile On by Deee-lite. "Smile on, pass it on..." :) HUG!
With all due respect it appears that Dr. Seligman never read cellular researcher Dr. Bruce Lipton's 30 years of research findings contained in the book Biology of Belief. One can do all the healthy stuff as an adult but until the past is cleared of the beliefs formed in childhood we are only 5 % conscious. The child is still running the show.
Dr. Lipton's research shows it is the epigenetically induced beliefs taught to us by our caregivers, education, religion etc, that account for the quality of our health and well being es in EVERY aspect of our lives. His research shows that our genes only influence our health by 5%!
That is why affirmations do not work. What does work is doing the inner work to release the beliefs that affect health mentally physically emotionally and spiritually.
On Aug 17, 2015 inspiring soulutions wrote:
Loved the article- there is so much doom and gloom in our world so I'd rather be refuelled by doing good and smiling- even when I don't feel like it. Raising my vibration +action= more people activated to their purpose and commitment to create a global community which cares about our world!!😀
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