The Art and Science of Happiness
This week I finished reading the book ‘ The Myths of Happiness’ by Sonja Lyubomirsky. Dr. Lyubomirsky is a professor of Psychology at University of California, Riverside. Her research is in the area of increasing happiness and the book is easy to read. It gives practical tips we can use to improve ones life.
What is Happiness? Do we choose to be Happy? How do we improve our happiness? Are there any benefits to being Happy?Why are some people happier than others? Does Money bring us happiness?
We all recognize it when we feel happy. The emotion we feel when we get married, when we succeed at a task, when a child is born and the list goes on. Researchers have defined it as state of ‘subjective well being’. In her 2007 book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky elaborates, describing happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” Dr Martin Seligman, pioneer in Positive Psychology describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning.
Research has shown us that ‘engagement and meaning’ give us the best shot at happiness. Engagement involves living a balanced life involving family, work and friends. Meaning refers to using one's strengths to engage in the ‘greater good’.
How we interpret events in our lives leads to feelings of positive or negative emotions. Even when faced with ‘negative’, ‘unfortunate’ or ‘bad’ things happening, some people will bounce back faster than the others.
Researchers have helped to respond to the question, how do we increase our Happiness?
The following is a partial list of what can help us lead a Happy Life.
1. Exercise- Regular physical exercise is not only good for our physical health but it also helps in improving our emotional health.
2. Building and maintaining Social Relationships- Humans are social creatures. Relating to people gives us pleasure. Family and friends play a large role in building positive emotions in life.
3. Volunteering, giving back to the Community- Finding meaning in things that we do, is often invaluable.
4. Giving “thanks’, having a daily gratitude check list-. Saying ‘Thanks’ to those in our lives and expressing gratitude to the good things in life lets us appreciate what we have.
5.Practice Kindness- Be Kind to yourself, your family members, neighbor and the stranger in need.
6. Learn to get pleasure from the the small things in life- walking in the warm sunshine after the rain, listening to a bird song, taking the dog for a walk.
7. Pay attention and ‘Be mindful’. Mindfulness helps us in being in the present moment and enjoying the present.
8. Be aware of Happiness crutches like ‘ I will be Happy when ------’. The ‘When ‘ is always beyond our reach.
Below are links to the two websites on Happiness