“I will be very happy if am accepted to the university. And I will be happy if a can buy that fabulous car for myself, if I run the Marathon, I will be very happy if …”
These are all familiar sentences, aren’t they?
We always attach happiness to something, thus restraining it: after I have achieved this and that, well, then I will be as happy as a clam and I will finally be able to say: I am very happy! 🙂
The other conditioning we have is to think happy people were born happy, it is just easy for them to be satisfied, or when we believe that happiness is something that is defined by our genes, or a matter of luck granted by God.
Happiness can be learned
Psychology has been dealing with human behavior for quite a long time, but it has been focusing on researching the factors that make people happy for only a short period of time. These factors include the crutches that help people achieve a complete life and the behavioral patterns that are needed for lasting happiness.
The good news is that contrary to our notions and learned beliefs, much desired happiness can be learned, we can control almost 40 percent of it.
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, American professor of psychology, and her team have carried out a remarkable research in which they undertook to compare several hundreds of experiments where scientist tried to cheer up participants through some kind of method. Data from 250,000 people show that happiness has some measurable advantages beyond the fact that it makes us feel good.
The nature of happiness
The results of the research conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky have shown that happiness makes people friendlier and devoted, handle conflicts more easily, and their immune system gets stronger. Meanwhile they become more successful, and live a longer and healthier life.
Participants in the research could learn several different happiness enhancing practices, such as expressing gratitude, caring for one’s body, smiling, practicing optimism, setting goals, boosting experiences. These strategies can help us establish our own happiness and live a complete life (Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness).
Martin Seligman, one of the greatest figures of positive psychology, has redefined the concept of happiness, well-being, and psychology at the same time. Focusing on negative life experiences may easily lead to depression and anguish. The best way to avoid this is to think about good things. Seligman advises to write down before going to sleep three good things that have happened to us that day, since recorded positive events decrease our level of depression. This practice will be internalized in a couple of months, it will become an everyday habit, and will make us happier. With practices like this it is child’s play to find happiness, according to Seligman. (Martin Seligman, Flourish)
Martin Seligman’s presentation: A New Understanding of Well-Being
Keep up the good work! The World is Better With You!