Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Proverbs 17:22

Viewing the 1769 King James Version. Click to switch to 1611 King James Version of Proverbs 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Scientific Studies in Happiness "Research confirms that happy people, who feel mildly or moderately happy most of the time, are not enthralled by acquiring big houses, fast cars, fashionable furnishings, luxury travel, and glittering jewelry. Coversely, injury and adverse circumstances do not nessarily make one unhappy. IN fact, research suggests that most people soon adapt somewhat to changes in their situations (Diener, 200; Myers, 200; Worman & Silver,1991).

Yet, full adaption is not inevitable, and significant changes like permanent disability that removes one from one's meaningful social activity can cause a significant drop in one's sense of wellbeing (Lucas, 2007)
What then characterizes happy individuals, if not wealth, space, and unlimited freedom? It is not age, gender, or inclome, nor traiditonal traits. There are only minor to moderate associations with extroversion (presumably because extroverts are more sensitive to rewards), and agreeable ness (presumably because agreeable people are trusting and altruistic) There is an inverse association with Neuroticism, as neurotics tend to be anxious, cynical, and pessimistic (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998; Mroczek & Spiro, 2005; Watson, 2000) But these traits often do not capture what we mean by "happy" people. Further the matter is complicated by the situations peopel seek out for themselves. FOr general welll-being and life, satisfaction, personality is a predictor of relevent life achievements like job and marital satisfaction, which in turn are often relevant to overall satisfaction. (Heller, Watson & Illies, 2004).

Proverbs 15:13

Viewing the King James Version. Click to switch to 1611 King James Version of Proverbs 15:13.

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Interestingly, psychologists studying subjective well-being have often found that the best rationalizers are the most content. People who see things as always working out for the best are happiest. Furthermore, perceived financial situation and perceived control over life affect happiness, and these are not directly related to one's objective circumstances. (Diener, 2000; Johnson & Krueger, 2006; Lyubomirksy, 2001; Mysers, 2000)

Happy individuals are less bothered when their peers do better than they do, whereas unhappy individuals are dissapointed in their peers accompliments, and are relieved by their acquaintances faires. Happy individuals look for information that is "good news" but otherwize don't worry much about how they compare to others. Happy people tend to think about and remember positive events in their lives. Happy people create meaning in their lives by interpreting events in terms of humanistic values of personal growth, meaningful social ties, and giving back to society. Unhappy people tend to dwell on negative happenings and ruminate about their problems and distress. ( Bauer, McAdams, & Sakaeda, 2005; Lyubomirksy, 2001; Lyubomirsky & Ross, 1999; Lyubomirksy, Sousa & Dickerhoof, 2006.)

Happy people do have good relations with an intimate other, a sense of purpose and hope, and work or hobbies they enjoy. THey often help others and have a sense of faith or trust. Yet it is not clear to what extent one can MAKE oneself happy by getting married, or becoming a volunteer, or going to church (Diener, Lucas & Scollon, 2006; McCullough, Bono & Root, 2005)

Classic existentialist-humanistic personality theorists wrestle with the tension between a focus on internal self-concepts verses external environmental contingencies. ONe does not live in a world wholly of one's own creation, but one is not merely a cog in a mechanical world either. People must struggle to make sense of their world, combating anxiety and dread to transcend struggle and strive for self actualization in challenging circumstances.

A similar tension emerges in modern research on happiness Although researchers agree that material possessions do not in themselves bring happiness, there is disagreement on the importance of internal-based rationalizations and environment-based interactions. Some researchers focus outwardly and point happiness seekers towards such environment-based interactions. Some researchers focus outwardly and point happiness seekers toward such environment-based social behaviors as altruism, fidelity, forgiveness and community. But other researchers point towards such internal based rationalizations as remembering positive events, being unbothers by others triumphs, and adapting to one's own situation. For example, in one study about college applications, self-reported happy and unhappy high school seniors evaluated colleges after applying for admission, and then later after making their college choices. Happy students turned out to be more satisfied with all the college vohices they had, and they more sharply devalued the desirable colleges that rejected them, thus maintaining their happiness (Lyubomirksy & Ross, 1999) Happiness in this study, was more a function of internal rationalizations than external encounters. May other studiesl however, show the benefits of altrustic acts, such as behaving kindly towards strangers. Even more, sometimes external acts help shape one's own positive self-image.

Based on the work of David G. Myers (2000), one of the wisest interpreters of research on what makes people happy, and the work of leading researchers like Ed Diener (2000; Diener, Lucas & Scollon, 2006) and Sonja Lyubomirksy (2001), we can derive the following suggestions for pursuing happiness.

1) Help others. As one pays less attention to one's own problems and builds positive, intimate relations with others, one sense of well-being increases.

2) Monitor one's wealth-seeking. Beacuase people soon adapt to newfound wealth, material possessions themselves do not guarantee happiness. Resources that help one to engage in productive or absorbing activities may, however, promote happiness.

3) Avoid television. Being inactive, being unengaged with others, being passive, and limiting one's physical activity all can promote unhappiness.

4) Keep lists or journals of your accomplishments and other things to be grateful for, to remind yourself of the good things in your life. Do this weekly and monthly.

5) Seek spiritual or awe-inspiring experiences in life, especially experiences that fit with your temperament. THese could be religious, nature-based, artistic, scientific, or creative.

6) Set long-term goals and move on quickly after any short-term failures. Recognize and relish the fact that life has many difficult challenges.

7) Recognize that many people have tendences to be relatively unhappy, due to a combination of biology, early experiences, past learning, thoughts, and abilities, and current situations. If you are such a person, don't dwell on it. Like personality, happiness levels can improve, but usually change only very slowly over long periods of time."

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