To highlight how important this field of research is, there is even a dedicated Journal of Happiness Studies. For example, scientists found that failure to meet overly high expectations can leave you depressed. And research shows that happiness is way less valued in Eastern cultures than Western ones. For example, harmony is ranked higher in many non-Western cultures when it comes to the most important goals to pursue in life.
Could we seek happiness in a more balanced way? Sometimes, life sucks. And managing our levels of happiness is an art in itself. This great paper was published a few years ago and gives an overview of the current state of affairs when it comes to the neuroscience of happiness.
Happiness - Wikipedia
In short, we have made lots of discoveries around the hedonic aspects of happiness—what brings us pleasure. Dr Carol Diane Ryff, an American academic and psychologist, has been studying psychological well-being and psychological resilience for decades. Based on her research , she created the Six-factor Model of Psychological Well-being, a theory that outlines the key factors to our happiness. This model was developed into a psychological well-being questionnaire used to measure how happy people are by asking them to rate statements on a scale from 1 to 6.
If you would like to take the test, I have uploaded a PDF of the questions and scoring instructions here. This is all well and good if all you want to measure your happiness, but what about improving it—being happier? Can it been learned? Twenty years ago, Dr Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, decided to try to answer this question: can happiness be taught? Eugene M. To psychological researchers, happiness is life experience marked by a preponderance of positive emotion. Feelings of happiness and thoughts of satisfaction with life  are two prime components of subjective well-being SWB.
The scientific pursuit of happiness and positive emotion is also the first pillar of the new positive psychology first proposed in Martin E. Seligman's American Psychological Association presidential address. Positive psychologists also study positive character strengths and virtues and positive social institutions.
- Quick Links.
- Please, Miss: The true story of a trainee teacher in 1960s Liverpool!
- The Science of Happiness.
- In This Section.
Psychologists assess people's happiness with varied measures. Other investigators employ multi-item happiness measures. Some tap into the "cognitive" component of happiness i.
Positive Psychology and Happiness 12222
For example, the popular Satisfaction With Life Scale asks respondents five questions about their feelings regarding their lives e. The Affect Balance Scale invites people to report how frequently they have experienced various positive and negative emotions over the last 30 days. The Experience Sampling Method uses a pager to occasionally interrupt people's waking experience and to sample their moods, and the Day Reconstruction Method requires respondents to review their previous day hour by hour and to recall exactly what they were doing and how they were feeling during each hour.
Multi-item global measures of happiness are also frequently used by researchers. The Subjective Happiness Scale asks people to rate the extent to which they believe themselves to be happy or unhappy individuals e.
- What Is Happiness?;
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi!
- Related Specialties.
- The Bloomsbury Group;
Contrary to many reports of abundant misery "Our pains greatly exceed our pleasures," said Rousseau , most people report being "fairly" or "very" happy and relatively few some 1 in 10 in many countries, including the USA report being "not too happy. When responses were converted to a 0 to 10 scale with 5 being neutral , the average SWB score was near 7.
These generally positive self-reports come from people of all ages and both sexes worldwide, with a few exceptions: people hospitalized for alcoholism, newly incarcerated inmates, new therapy clients, South African blacks during the apartheid era, homeless people, sex workers, and students living under conditions of political suppression.
When surveyed, there is some tendency for people to overreport good things such as voting and underreport bad things such as smoking.
Positive Psychology and Happiness 12222
Positive self-reports also predict sociability, energy, and helpfulness, and a lower risk for abuse, hostility, and illness. It's officially called The Science of Well-Being, and it has already been taken by more than , students online. One in four students at Yale has taken it since it was first offered. Santos told me she designed the course for three reasons: to synthesize what psychologists have learned about making our lives better, to help undergrads overcome stress and unhappiness on campus, and "to live a better life myself.
Here's why: The seminars are great, but you also get a lot of homework centered on daily exercises geared toward changing your habits — recognizing and then dropping bad ones while developing new good habits. Here are just four exercises I picked out from a slew of new tips and tricks I've learned so far. Again, the point here is that these positive habits have been tested and proven to work, based on psychological science. This first homework was all about identifying your signature strengths and refocusing on them each day.
I took the "VIA Survey" online anyone can take this test free here , which revealed my 24 greatest strengths. My top four: love of learning, appreciation of beauty and excellence, leadership, and fairness.
If you're pretty self-aware, the results won't be a big surprise. The key, though, is to identify them and find situations to use your strengths every day. That'll lead you down the path to flourishing.
Studies show happiness increases and depression decreases when a person uses his or her signature strengths regularly. In my case, I looked for simple ways to use fairness, humor, and love of learning throughout my day. Tip: Additional research shows that if you're able to bundle four of your top strengths while at work, you'll likely flourish and have more positive experiences, and you are more likely to think of your work as a calling. I spend money on experiences such as live music, trips, and meals instead of new toys. It's always made me happier. Now I know that research backs this up, regardless of income levels: Going for a walk or traveling to a new place are much better investments in terms of happiness than buying material things.
Turns out your stuff loses "happiness value" almost as soon as you've purchased it. Paying for experiences, however, has multiple benefits for happiness. One, the anticipation of the experience leads to more happiness and joy. Two, talking about the experience afterward with friends reignites your own happy memories and, incredibly enough, sharing these tales with friends tends to boost their happiness, too.