NORTH PARK — The quest for happiness may also be easier in theory.
Some scientists have argued that happiness is basically dependant on genetics, health insurance and other factors mostly beyond our control. But recent research suggests people actually may take charge of their own happiness and boost it through certain practices.
«The billion-dollar question is, can you really become happier?» said psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside. «Regardless of the discovering that happiness is partially genetically determined, and regardless of the discovering that life circumstances have a smaller influence on our happiness than we think they do, we argue that still a huge part of happiness is inside our capacity to change.»
Lyubomirsky spoke here Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She and colleagues this past year reviewed 51 studies that tested attempts to improve happiness through various kinds of positive thinking, and found that these practices can enhance well-being significantly. The full total results were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
Listed below are five things that research has proven can improve happiness:
1. Be grateful — Some study participants were asked to create letters of gratitude to individuals who had helped them for some reason. The study discovered that these folks reported a lasting upsurge in happiness — over weeks and even months — after implementing the habit. What’s a lot more surprising: Sending the letter isn’t necessary. Even though people wrote letters but delivered them to the addressee never, they reported feeling better afterwards still.
2. Be optimistic — Another practice that appears to greatly help is optimistic thinking. Study participants were asked to visualize a perfect future — for instance, coping with a supportive and loving partner, or finding employment that was fulfilling and describe the image in a journal entry -. After doing this for a couple weeks, these folks reported increased feelings of well-being too.
3. Count your blessings — Individuals who practice recording three good stuff which have happened to them weekly show significant boosts in happiness, studies have found. It appears the act of concentrating on the positive helps people remember reasons to be glad.
4. Use your strengths — Another study asked visitors to identify their greatest strengths, also to make an effort to use these strengths in new ways then. For example, somebody who says they have an excellent love of life could try telling jokes to reduce conferences or cheer up sad friends. This habit, too, appears to heighten happiness.
5. Commit acts of kindness — As it happens helping others also helps ourselves. Individuals who donate money or time to charity, or who assist people in need altruistically, report improvements within their own happiness. Lyubomirsky has generated a free of charge iPhone application also, called Live Happy, to greatly help people enhance their well-being.
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