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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Are You Happy?

In an article first published in The Washington Post, Don Oldenburg writes about the movement within psychology toward "Positive Psychology" and new research being done to better understand happiness.

"Although depression has been on the rise for decades, and other social indicators seem down in the dumps, what psychologists are finding, surprisingly, is that most people are at least moderately happy, regardless of age or gender."

Leading researchers of happiness have shown that there is a consistent trend, worldwide, toward greater satisfaction with one's life. Currently, about 30% of the people polled report being "Very Happy". About 60% report being "Pretty Happy". About 10% report being "Not Too Happy".
Psychologists have now identified traits that commonly mark happy people, and the changes people can make to be more happy. Scientists have even proven that there are certain genetic predispositions to happiness. Like blood cholesterol levels, both are genetically influenced and yet both are, to some extent, under our control. There are certain things we can do to influence how happy we are.

Happy People
The most important trait common to happy people is positive self-esteem . Studies have found that happy people like themselves and believe themselves to be smarter, healthier, and more sociable than the average person. They are also more optimistic, extroverted, and tend to have a more realistic perspective regarding negative experiences. They feel like they are in control of their lives.

Another important trait of happy people is their social involvement with others. Close relationships with supportive friends and family, intimacy within marriage, and an interest in deeply caring and loving relationships are a priority in the pursuit of happiness.

Happy people are good at setting long-term goals at work and breaking them down into achievable daily accomplishments. They find work to be a positive experience because they put themselves into work situations where they feel challenged and engaged, without feeling overwhelmed.

Research proves that people active in religious organizations are happier, because they cope better with various life experiences and are less vulnerable to substance abuse and suicide.

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