Happiness. We all need more happiness in our life. It seems that every news station broadcasts the terrible disasters of the world. People are dying. Wars are waging. People are hungry. Politics are more divisive than ever. Everywhere we look we see calamity and strife. Depression is at an all time high. Kids with ADD and ADHD are reported more now than ever.
Yet, through it all, we strive as a human species to obtain happiness. A sense of well-being and value that drives our everyday motives and actions.
A happy individual could be described as a person that experience frequent positive emotions and feeling such as joy, contentment, cheerfulness, delight, enjoyment, and well-being. Although a happy person experiences negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, frustration, and anger, these negative emotions tend to be more infrequent (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon et al. 2005).
The vast majority of U.S. citizens rate personal happiness as very important (Diener, Suh et al. 1999) and think about their personal happiness at least daily (Freedman 1978).
Happy people experience the same level of heartache, setbacks, and frustration as the non-happy person. The difference lies within how a person responds to the traditional experiences in life that causes the proverbial roller-coaster.
There are several specific interventions and lessons that can be implemented that have been proven to increase happiness such as gratitude (Emmons and McCullough 2003), forgiveness (Pargament, McCullough et al. 2000), and positive self-reflection (Lyubomirsky, Sousa et al. 2004).
Studies have shown that individuals that have gratitude:
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Diener, E., E. Suh, R. E. Lucas and H. L. Smith (1999). Subjective Well-Being: Three Decades of Progress.
Emmons, R. A. and M. E. McCullough (2003). “Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.” Journal of personality and social psychology 84(2): 377.
Freedman, J. L. (1978). Happy people: What happiness is, who has it, and why, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Lyubomirsky, S., K. M. Sheldon and D. Schkade (2005). “Pursuing happiness: the architecture of sustainable change.” Review of general psychology 9(2): 111.
Lyubomirsky, S., L. Sousa and R. Dickerhoof (2004). “The medium is the message: The costs and benefits of thinking, writing, and talking about life’s triumphs and defeats.” Manuscript submitted for publication.
Pargament, K. I., M. E. McCullough and C. E. Thoresen (2000). “The frontier of forgiveness.” Forgiveness: Theory, research and practice: 299-319.