The Science of Happiness
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness” and “The Myths of Happiness,” spoke at the 2014 SDPA Fall Conference in San Diego about two components of happiness: life satisfaction and positive emotions. She discussed studies revealing how and why people are happy.
Did you know that there is a science behind what makes people happy? Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness” and “The Myths of Happiness,” spoke about two components of happiness: life satisfaction and positive emotions. Dr. Lyubomirsky discussed studies revealing how and why people are happy. She noted that everyone wants to be happy, and most of us generally want others to be happy as well. Her session began with the idea that instead of studying planes that crash, perhaps we should begin to study the planes that are still up in the air.
So is happiness just about feeling good?
Dr. Lyubomirsky looked at 225 studies on the benefits of happiness.
- Were more productive at work and also more creative
- Make more money and have superior jobs
- Are better leaders and negotiators
- Are more likely to marry and to have fulfilling marriages
- Have more friends and social support
- Have stronger immune systems, are physically healthier, and even live longer
- Are more helpful and philanthropic
- Show resilience to stress and trauma
Happy people do philanthropic things because they’re happy. In return, philanthropic things make people happy.
A study with children revealed a lot about how kindness and happiness are related. A control group of children was asked to perform acts of kindness and write them down. The children who did the acts of kindness got happier.
In her book, “The Myths of Happiness,” Dr. Lyubomirsky discusses the fact that many of us have the wrong idea of what will make us happy and what will make us unhappy.
- “I’ll be happy when…”
- “I can’t be happy because…”
People are remarkably resilient
Almost nothing is as misery-inducing as we think it is. Studies have shown that facing adversity often causes positive changes to occur in people’s lives. Resilience is the ability to get used to anything. We get used to the positive things as well.
There’s no magic formula for happiness and no sure course toward misery. We need to understand that life’s turning points do not have to become major crises. For example, being less excited with your job, house, relationship is not a crisis.
Failing to grasp happiness myths can make us feel that there is something wrong with us and lead us to walk away from perfectly good jobs and relationships.
Happiness Increasing Strategies:
- Express gratitude
- Practice acts of kindness
- Learning to forgive
Dr. Lyubomirsky closed by noting that appreciation and gratitude are the antidote to unhappiness. She stated, “The conclusion of our research is that happiness takes work, motivation, and commitment.”
Image: Nasir Nasrallah