Tuesday 31 July 2007

Are you happy?

Studies have shown that how happy we are has a lot to do with our natural temperament. To a large extent, it’s in our genes. Circumstance also affects happiness but not always in ways that we would expect.

Apparently wealth, education, youth and good looks don’t contribute very much to happiness. So what does matter?

For a start, married people are significantly happier than those who are not whereas divorced people tend to be more miserable. In case you’re wondering, having kids doesn’t do much to boost happiness, especially if they are living at home! There’s an injection of joy when a child is born, but that wears off after 2 years.

The good news is friendship has a significant effect on happiness. The wider and deeper your relationships with friends, the happier you’re likely to be.

On the other end of the scale, circumstances like losing a spouse or a job can produce lasting unhappiness and long term damage.

How to boost happiness? Genetic disposition makes up a whopping 50% while circumstances account for only 10%. Are you surprised that factors like health, wealth and good looks have so little impact? Well, this is largely due to a psychological process known as adaptation. People adapt to new circumstances rather quickly. For example, once you have adapted to new found wealth, your happiness soon reverts to original level. Similarly, it allows people to bounce back from setbacks like an accident victim who has lost his limbs will recover from depression and regain something very close to their original level of happiness.

There is still hope. Psychologists believe that adopting appropriate intentional activities (thoughts and behaviors that require effort, and that we can control) can make us happier. Some happiness-boosting strategies include performing acts of altruism or kindness as well as cultivating and expressing gratitude.

Living a productive and meaningful life is another essential ingredient of well-being. Dr Seligman, a renowned psychologist, says that you can achieve this by identifying your personal strengths (curiosity, ingenuity, social intelligence, courage, etc) and using them to achieve worthwhile goals.

Do you feel happier already?


Anonymous said...

luv ur photo of ur niece and Rusty...yeah I know...nothing to do with your post....

The Real Mother Hen said...

Everytime I read your blog, I feel happy. Seriously, knowing you are well, writing happily, chasing after CH (sorry should be Rusty), just bring a smile to my face :)

Blur Ting said...

Thanks JY - Yah, my niece and dog always bring a smile to my face.

MH - Oh, such a nice thing to hear from you! That's why you're my very dear friend. I probably have quite alot of 'happy genes' in me.

Anonymous said...

blur ting, just knowing you makes me a happier person. You too Jyankee and Mother Hen.

Good night...well, morning to some of you. :)

Anonymous said...

I completely agree that we are incredibly adaptable to situations good or bad, and that it is more a matter of our natural temperment that dictates our general level of happiness. I have my "down cycles", but I am generally able to view life with a sense of humor - which I think is a huge component of lasting happiness.