On the internet and in the bookstores, a thousand gurus tout different remedies for human misery. How can we find out which remedies work? We need to consult one of our greatest gurus, the scientific method. Recently we have seen a dramatic upsurge in scientific studies on Positive Psychology and the “science of happiness” or to put it simply, discovering what makes happy people happy. Fortunately, many of the scientific studies point to specific ways of thinking and acting that can strongly impact our happiness. In these pages, we review the most scientific studies and translate the results into non-technical English. Let’s take a look at the areas of consensus that are emerging within the new science of happiness.
The 7 Habits of Happy People
People who have one or more close friendships are happier. It doesn’t seem to matter if we have a large network of close relationships or not. What seems to make a difference is if and how often we cooperate in activities and share our personal feelings with a friend or relative. Continue »
People who volunteer or simply care for others on a consistent basis seem to be happier and less depressed. Although “caring” can involve volunteering as part of an organized group or club, it can be as simple as reaching out to a workmate or classmate who looks lonely or is struggling with an issue. Continue »
Regular exercise has been associated with improved mental well-being and a lower incidence of depression. The Cochrane Review (the most influential medical review of its kind in the world) has produced a landmark analysis of 23 studies on exercise and depression. One of the major conclusions was that exercise had a “large clinical impact.” Continue »
Studies by experts in the new field of Positive Psychology show that the happiest people are those that have discovered their unique strengths (such as persistence and critical thinking) and virtues (such as humanity or justice) and use those strengths and virtues for a purpose that is greater than their own personal goals. Continue »
Of all the areas studied in the relatively young field of positive psychology, gratitude has perhaps received the most attention. Grateful people have been shown to have greater positive emotion, a greater sense of belonging, and lower incidence of depression and stress. Continue »