What is happiness?
While some believe happiness is largely determined by a combination of genetics, health and other factors that are largely out of our control, researchers from the University of California, Riverside, have figured out five ways we can take charge of our own happiness--and in the process actually boost it.
Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky posed this question to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: "The billion-dollar question is, is it possible to become happier?" She thinks it is. "Despite the finding that happiness is partially genetically determined and despite the finding that life situations have a smaller influence on our happiness than we think they do, we argue that still a large portion of happiness is in our power to change," Lyubomirsky said.
LiveScience.com reports that Lyubomirsky and her team reviewed 51 studies that tested attempts to increase happiness through different types of positive thinking. The results? These practices can significantly enhance well-being.
Here are five things you can do to be happier:
1. Be grateful
How to do it: Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has helped you in some way. This can lead to a lasting increase in happiness over weeks or even months. You don't even need to send the letter to reap the reward. Just writing it can make you feel better.
2. Be optimistic
How to do it: Visualize your ideal future, whatever that may be. Perhaps you long to find a loving partner or secure a fulfilling and challenging job. Imagine all the details and write them in a journal.
3. Count your blessings
How to do it: Every week, write down three good things that have happened to you. By focusing on the positive, you'll remember reasons to be happy.
4. Use your strengths
How to do it: Identify your greatest personal strengths and then try to use them in new ways.
5. Commit acts of kindness
How to do it: Donate your time or money to a charity and you'll not only help others, but also yourself. People who give to others report a boost in their own happiness.
The study results were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
--From the Editors at Netscape