The Science of Happiness

Our level of happiness is:

* 50% genes (can change)
* 10% circumstances (can change sometimes)
* 40 % choices (can change 100% if we want to)

So, we can blame our genes for not being happy. Or we can blame our circumstances for not being happy or we can… own it, take some responsibility & make some different set of choices. If we know these choices exist… that is.

During Sonja’s research, she found 12 activities that makes us “happier”.

1. Expressing Gratitude (daily gratitude journal)
2. Cultivating Optimism (by changing the way you think about things)
3. Avoiding Overthinking and Social (media) Comparison
4. Practicing Acts of Kindness
5. Nurturing Social Relationships (caring for people)
6. Developing Strategies for Coping (negative visualisation)
7. Learning to Forgive
8. Increasing Flow Experiences 
9. Savoring Life’s Joys
10. Committing to Your Goals 
11. Practicing Religion and Spirituality
12. Practice Self-Care (Meditation + Physical Activity + Acting Like a Happy Person)

***

Practice #1. Gratitude

“the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic.”
– Sonja Lyubomirsky

Dealing with negative interpretations & Reframing

One obstacle to joy is when we interpret situations in a negative way.

When we feel lousy, the first step is to ask yourself: Why am I feeling like this?

If you find a good reason to feel lousy, then see if you can reframe your “interpretation” of the situation into a more constructive one.

For example I’m sitting on a train now and it’s about one hour delayed. I don’t now when it will arrive. I hear people swearing and venting around me, but I see it as an opportunity to use the time I have been given.

Everything depends how you look at it… 

Questions you can ask yourself when you notice negative attitudes & thoughts in yourself:
* What else could this situation or experience mean?
* Can anything good come from it?
* Does it present any opportunities for me?
* What lessons can I learn and apply to the future?
* Did I develop any strengths as a result?”

Exercise & Depression

“An impressive study of physical activity was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999. The researchers recruited men and women fifty years old and over, all of them suffering from clinical depression, and divided them randomly into three groups. The first group was assigned to four months of aerobic exercise, the second group to four months of antidepressant medication (Zoloft), and the third group to both. The assigned exercise involved three supervised forty-five-minute sessions per week of cycling or walking/jogging at moderate to high intensity. Remarkably, by the end of the four-month intervention period, all three groups had experienced their depressions lift and reported fewer dysfunctional attitudes and increased happiness and self-esteem. Aerobic exercise was just as effective at treating depression as was Zoloft, or as a combination of exercise and Zoloft. Yet exercise is a lot less expensive, usually with no side effects apart from soreness. Perhaps even more remarkably, six months later, participants who had “remitted” (recovered) from their depressions were less likely to relapse if they had been in the exercise group (six months ago!) than if they had been in the medication group.”
– Sonja Lyubomirsky

Setting Goals & Working on Projects

“… working toward a meaningful life goal is one of the most important strategies for becoming lastingly happier.”
– Sonja Lyubomirsky

“If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert.”
– W. Béran Wolfe

 

***

More quotes: 

“One of the great obstacles to attaining happiness is that most of our beliefs about what will make us happy are in fact erroneous.”
– Sonja Lyubomirsky

“It is a truism that how you think—about yourself, your world, and other people—is more important to your happiness than the objective circumstances of your life.”
– Sonja Lyubomirsky

“I have found that truly happy people have the capacity to distract and absorb themselves in activities that divert their energies and attention away from dark or anxious ruminations.”
– Sonja Lyubomirsky

 

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