Surprising Facts About Happiness

Jul 12, 09 • Family & Relationships
happy woman

Happy Woman


You’d be surprised how often the things we do actually make things worse, and how often things we think are unimportant have a huge impact.

By: Andrew J. Rosenthal

A wealth of research has been done over the past few years on happiness – why it’s so important to be happy, how to measure your own happiness and of course, how to improve your own happiness. Yet we’re all so busy on a day to day basis, that trying to focus on happiness can seem like a luxury.

It’s important to know why happiness is such a big deal. Here are a few proven by- products of happiness that just might surprise you!

•    It feels good. Perhaps this is the most obvious benefit: it feels better day-to-day if you’re happy than it does if you’re unhappy.  This benefit isn’t just psychological — happier people live better, and live longer.

•    Happier people do better in their jobs. A recent study found that happy people make more money and obtain better job performance reviews than do unhappy people.

•    Happier people are more creative. People who experience positive emotions on a regular basis are better at a wide variety of mental tasks that tap things like self-discipline, creativity, and decision-making.

•    Happier people are more resilient. People who are optimistic about the future, and about their ability to make an impact on their future, are better suited to persevere in the face of adversity and find opportunities for growth. It turns out that positive emotions are a key ingredient of resilience in the face of adversity.

•    Happier people have better relationships. Being happy makes people more interested in befriending you. When we are happy, we behave in certain ways that make people enjoy being around us more. The friends we already have will be more likely to stick with us when the chips are down if the chips aren’t always down.

Most people tell us all this is great, but who has the time to work on being happier? These days we can barely make it to the gym, let alone add on a set of “happiness exercises.”  But there are easy, quick things we can do each day to become happier that take maybe five minutes, even less.

•    Do at least one thing per day completely.  By that, I mean, experience it fully, without going off into your head and thinking about what you need to do later, what you’re worried might happen, or whether whatever you are doing is a good use of your time.  Just do it, and savor it.  It can be anything – a meal, your shower, even a conversation – and you don’t have to plan it in advance.  What’s more important is that you pick something you usually rush through or do distractedly and instead be completely present while you are doing it.

•    Every night, reflect on the things that went well that day.  We have all sorts of cognitive biases that make it easy to forget good things, or let bad things overshadow them.  We have to work hard to keep them from disappearing from our memory altogether, and one of the quickest, easiest ways to do that is to set a specific time to remember (and maybe even record) them.  Happier.com has created an iPhone application called the “gratitude journal” that records your bright spots during the day and tracks your happiness “quotient”.  You can do it in just a few minutes a day.

•    Experiment with your daily routine.  Develop some ideas about what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy and see if you’re right.  Keep a log of what you do each day and what your mood is throughout the day, and see what factors make a difference.  You’d be surprised how often the things we do because we think they are helping us actually make things worse, and how often things we think are unimportant have a huge impact.

About the Author:

Andrew J. Rosenthal is a founder of happier.com,  a set of tools for measuring and increasing one’s happiness, backed by the science of positive psychology.  He works with leading researchers to “go beyond the books” and develop online exercises for happier.com.

Happier.com goes beyond the books and uses research-based tools to inspire people to feel happier and more resilient. Through assessments and exercises to measure, track and improve happiness, thousands of users have experienced a meaningful improvement. Easy-to-use applications, both online and for the iPhone, provide users with the tools they need to be happier.  Focusing on what goes well, and why, helps you build your life around authentic sources of happiness.

Photo: badboypp

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