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Friday, August 14, 2009

Can you boost happiness?

I have been reading the proceedings of the conference on 'Happiness and its Causes' and am amazed to find out that life events account for only about 10% of the variance in people's subjective happiness levels. 50% is probably inherited and 40% is 'intentional activities'. This is based on over 20 years of research - it's fascinating. It seems we have a genetically predisposed 'set-point' of happiness (Andrew calls it the 'happy-hollard-leaving-the-door-open' thing with me). Just FYI the 6 key characteristics of happy people are:

investment in family and friends, helping others, practising optimism, savouring (see below), physical exercise and life-long ambitions. By manipulating three conditions researchers found they could boost subjective happiness: 1. 'count your blessings 2. perform random acts of kindness 3. cultivate optimism. This is from Sonya Lyubomirsky and extends the work of Martin Seligman who we all met in the seventies at Uni –

remember 'learned helplessness' or you can have a look at happiness.com!

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