Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of California and author of the book ‘The How of Happiness’ concludes that there are several “evidence-based happiness-increasing strategies whose practice is supported by scientific research.” This blog is about sharing that wisdom.
However before we discuss these techniques it is important ask ourselves if happiness is a good thing or does it just simply feel good? A review of all the available literature has revealed that happiness does indeed have numerous positive byproducts, which appear to benefit not only individuals, but families, communities, and the society at large (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). The benefits of happiness include higher income and superior work outcomes such as greater productivity and higher quality of work, larger social rewards such as more satisfying and longer marriages, more friends, stronger social support, and richer social interactions, more activity, energy, and flow, and finally improved physical health such as a bolstered immune system, lowered stress levels and even a longer life.
So let’s take a look at those evidence-based happiness-increasing strategies:
1. Expressing Gratitude. Count your blessings by expressing gratitude for what you have (either privately through contemplation, writing a journal or confiding to a close friend) or convey your appreciation to individuals whom you’ve never properly thanked.
2. Cultivating Optimism. Keep a diary in which you imagine and write about the best possible future for yourself or practice by looking at the bright side of things.
3. Avoiding over thinking and social comparison. Cut down on how often you dwell on your problems and compare yourself to others.
4. Practicing Acts of Kindness. Do good things for others, whether friends or strangers, either directly or anonymously, either spontaneously or planned.
5. Nurturing Relationships. Pick a relationship in need of strengthening and invest time and energy in cultivating it.
6. Developing Strategies for Coping. Practice ways to endure or surmount a recent stress, hardship, or trauma.
7. Learning to Forgive. Work on letting go of resentment towards others who have hurt or wronged you.
8. Increasing Flow Experiences (being absorbed in the present). Look for activities at home and work that truly engage and challenge you.
9. Savouring Life’s Joys. Pay close attention, take delight, and go over life’s pleasures and wonders –through thinking, writing, drawing, or sharing with another.
10. Committing to Your Goals. Pick one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devoting time and effort to pursuing them.
11. Practicing Religion and Spirituality. Becoming more involved in your church, temple, or mosque, or reading and pondering spiritually-themed books.
12. Taking Care of Your Body. Engage in physical activity, meditation, smiling and laughing.
It would be futile to try to achieve all of these strategies as a part of your daily life, however you can take Sonja Lyubomirsky’s Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) at http://sonjalyubomirsky.com/subjective-happiness-scale-shs/ where you will be able to evaluate your own level of happiness in just a few moments.
Information cited from Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness.