My latest articles on happiness.
My latest articles on happiness.
Do one thing for your happiness everyday for the next ten days while counting down to World Happiness Day on the 11th of February.
The ‘I am happy project’ aims to help us develop sustainable happiness while making the world a better place at the same time.
Each day, starting today, there is a happiness activity and a worldwide conference call you can join.
To kick off the first day of actively improving your happiness:
This is a big step to start with, so if it feels a little daunting, write down a goal you have been thinking about and then write down a few tangible things that would bring you closer to achieving this goal. For me that would be write a blog post every week. Diarise what you need to do in order to achieve the first or even subsequent steps. Mine would go something like this, for a blog featuring Monday I would need to dedicate Wednesday evening to research, Saturday morning to writing and proof reading and publishing on Sunday evening.
I would love to hear your goal. Unfortunately the worldwide Skype call, supporting the ten day happiness project is at 2am every morning for South Africa (4pm pacific or 7pm east coast time), but you can:
check the resources tab and global conference call sub tab for all the recordings day by day
Skype call joining instructions:
To join the conference calls using Skype, first add “freeconferencing.7124320900” to your contacts. Please do that now. At the schedule date and time of conference call, select the contact and click call. Next, you will locate the key pad and enter the access code 391022 when prompted.
World Happiness Day 10 day countdown:
Day 1: Item # 10 Create a goal or dream list and work diligently towards them.
Day 2: Item # 9 Be active and make healthy choices.
Day 3: Item # 8 Learn to manage your time and your money.
Day 4: Item # 7 Create a list of all the things that make you unhappy and find a solution or ways to eliminate them.
Day 5: Item # 6 Create a list of all the things you are thankful for or that make you happy.
Day 6: Item # 5 Make time for the 3 F’s: Faith, Family & Friends.
Day 7: Item # 4 Donate your money according to your pocket, even if it is a dime.
Day 8: Item # 3 Volunteer your time one on one or to a group.
Day 9: Item # 2 Smile more and learn to laugh at yourself.
Day 10: Item # 1 Decide to be happy and make it your top priority.
Start today with one goal and one concrete way to achieve it.
Is happiness genetically predetermined, or is it something you can change? Through studies with genetically identical twins, researchers discovered part of the answer. 50% of our happiness is genetically determined. What then about the other 50%, is this in our power to change?
Can our circumstances, how much money we have, whether we are in a good relationship or how good looking we are, change our happiness? Do these things determine a large percentage of our happiness? Things that make up our circumstances determine a very small 10% of our overall happiness. Why only 10%, surely these are the things that make the difference?
The reason for the small percentage of difference that these seemingly big things make is that we adapt. We think that more money, better health or marriage will make us happier and they do for a while, but then we adapt to the new circumstances and we usually return to the level of happiness we experienced before the change.
What about the remaining 40%, is this in our hands to change? What makes up this 40 %? Forty percent of your happiness is determined by the things that you do, your behavior or intentional activities.
Happy people seek out new experiences, set higher goals and interact with new people.
Positive Psychology research studies happy people and boils down their behaviour into activities we can incorporate into our lives. Simple things you can do, form into habits which are aimed at increasing the 40% of your happiness that you can change.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Penguin Press HC
Happy people are more curious, creative and seek out new experiences. Approaching life this way builds the skills and resources that facilitate happiness and help cope with challenges. Happiness snowballs.
Happy people in general earn more, have more control over their work, enjoy a greater variety of tasks, enjoy their jobs more and are more successful at work. Good performance creates good moods. Happiness snowballs.
Happy people are more likely to get to know new people, like the people around them and spend more time helping others. Friends rate happy friends more positively, bosses rate happy employees more positively and happy people experience more social support. Social support supports happiness. Happiness snowballs.
Happy people are more likely to be happily married, healthier and live longer. Snowballs buy you time and save you money on healthcare bills.
Boehm, J. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Does happiness promote career success? Journal of career assessment, 16 (1), 101-116.
When an Ivy League university offers us a chance to see how happiness research dollars are being spent and how this can benefit us, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.
Thanks to the University of Pennsylvania, you can find out how happy you are, what your top strengths are, how optimistic you are and how balanced your work and personal life is. You’ll need to go through a quick sign up process, but this allows you to track your progress, have your results at your fingertips and contribute data towards future research projects. You can even see how your results compare with others who have taken the test, although the goal is not comparison, but an increase of feelings of wellbeing over time.
Here are some interesting questionnaires, find more here.
See yourself through the eyes of Positive Psychology research, your strengths, happiness levels and maybe even catch a glimpse of what could make you even better. I took the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire and my top strengths were creativity, curiosity, social intelligence, open-mindedness, love of learning and perspective, but now I’m just showing off. Go find out why you’re awesome, while I make notes on my CV.
Researching these strengths has been responsible for the most remarkable gains in prevention. These strengths act as buffers for those genetically at risk for developing mental illness, but also help normal people to lead more fulfilling lives.
Alleviating mental illness, helping people lead more fulfilling lives and facilitating high talent were Psychologies original aims. Unfortunately the two positive aims were relegated to the background, following World War II which made Psychologies contribution to illness very lucrative.
The ‘pathology perspective’, has made headway in that 14 disorders previously undiagnosable can now be cured or suffering eased. But as Camus wrote:
The famous question of Philosophy is why one should not commit suicide. One cannot answer that question just by curing depression, there must be positive reasons for living as well.
Positive reasons abound and over the last decade people have been voting, through media attention and research dollars for more research on human strengths which facilitate optimal development.
There is a need to focus even more attention on the conditions that allow not just people, but societies to flourish. Research on courage, future-mindedness, optimism, interpersonal skill, work ethic, honesty and the capacity for insight can do just that.
C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (2005). Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press.
Gillham & Seligman, M.E. P. (1999). Footsteps on the road to positive psychology. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, S163-S173.
Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive Psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5-11.
You rock was the title of Seth Godin’s blog today. Its impossible to be brilliant all the time, but you can for 5 mins a day.
Five minutes to write a blog post that changes everything, or five minutes to deliver an act of generosity that changes someone. Five minutes to tell the truth, or hear the truth. Five minutes a day you might do exceptional work, remarkable work, work that matters. Five minutes a day [to defeat fear] long enough to stand up and make a difference. From here
This might not sound like a lot but like he says, ‘It would be five minutes more than just about anyone else.’
I was looking for a creative birthday present for someone overseas and after reading Seth Godin’s blog post and a little googling I thought that since Obama has his best traits for all the world to see here we should all have one too. Make one for yourself or for a friend and put it somewhere for easy reference if you ever forget how awesome you are.