Happiness research is the quantitative study of happiness, positive and negative affect, well-being, quality of life and life satisfaction. The field has grown substantially since the late 20th century.
Wikipedia: According to a review in Boston.com on August 23, 2009, money doesn't buy much happiness unless it's used in certain ways. "Beyond the point at which people have enough to comfortably feed, clothe, and house themselves, having more money - even a lot more money - makes them only a little bit happier." However we can sometimes get more happiness bang for our buck by spending it in prosocial ways. A Harvard Business School study found that "spending money on others actually makes us happier than spending it on ourselves".
Psychologist Martin Seligman provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology's correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, etc.), Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity), Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness), Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).
There have also been some studies of how religion relates to happiness. Causal relationships remain unclear, but more religion is seen in happier people. This correlation may be the result of community membership and not necessarily belief in religion itself. Another component may have to do with ritual, according to a 2009 article in Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience.
The Ten Points of Happiness
The most important results of today’s happiness research can be summed up in ten points.
1. A Proactive Life is a Happy One
Happy people have positive goals and positive tasks. Proactive people are 15% more satisfied with their lives than more passive people. Happiness researcher Ed Diener explains, “happy people set goals for themselves again and again.”
2. An Active Life is a Happy One
Regular physical activity keeps the body healthy and makes the spirit happy. Daily walks raise the level of happiness 12%. David Niven says, “people who stay fit via sports are healthier, more positive, and more successful.”
3. Doing Good for the World is a Source of Happiness
Those who regularly do good things for others are 24% happier than those who only live for themselves. John A. Schindler wrote, “live as a giving person. Those who give are happier than those who only take. Those who give to others discover the beauty in the world.”
4. Rest and Relaxation Bring Happiness
The central point of a healthy and happy life is to find the balance between rest and activity. Besides, work, physical activity, and time spent with others, we need time to rest and relax. We need to get enough sleep. Scientific research shows that relaxed people think more positively and are happier. Every hour of sleep missed lowers the positivity one can experience during the day.
Where that point of balance between rest and activity lies, must be decided for oneself. Everyone needs to experiment a little to find this correct balance. We have to figure out who much sleep we need and how much relaxation time we need and at what speed we function at our best. We in the western world of „go, go, go“ who wish to stay happy and healthy, must also live extra clever. We need to organize our lives in an intelligent way to facilitate inner happiness and find one’s personal way to inner balance.
5. Positive Thinking
Those who think positively double their chance to realize happiness. Those who wish to be happy should think positively. The positive characteristics of wisdom, love, peace, inner power and joy in life should be set as the central point of one’s life. One should exercise a conscious decision to be positive. Fo example, we can ask ourselves, “ how can I go through the day in a positive way?”
6. Too Much Television Makes You Unhappy
Scientific research states, „ every hour of television lowers the general quality of life by 5%“. TV orients people around superficial things, and the concept of superficial happiness. It raises desire, increases aggression, and creates sorros. Those who would like to grow in terms of happiness, should stop watching TV. (David Niven: Die 100 Geheimnisse glücklicher Menschen. München 2000, Seite 32 f.)
The way to positive TV viewing consists of : a) choose your programs carefully. Avoid negative films. B) Find the correct amount of TV. Children should watch a maximum of one hour per day of television. C) After watching TV, one should practice some form of spiritual exercise (such as yoga, meditation, walking, reading, contemplating the meaning of life).
7. Foster Friendship
Build on your positive circle of friends. Women who talk to others reduce their worries by 55%. Cancer stricken women who met with a group once a week raised their survival chances to twice as high as those who didn’t meet with a group. In the western world, there is a strong tendency towards isolation. There are many single and lonely people. People who have a good circle of friends are happier and not isolated. We should take care of our friendships and practice positive activities with them.
8. Facilitate Joy
Those who can find little elements of joy in their lives can raise their overall happiness by 20%. Nils once felt bad and in order to raise his spirits, he ate a lot of sweets. His spirit brightened more and more. Then he visualized the sweets in his stomach and awakened his kundalini energy. He awakened a strong energy which quickly brought him back into the light. Nils learned to thus connect outer enjoyment with spiritual exercises. One then needs less sweets. Just a bit of outer enjoyment is enough for inner happiness.
Those with a good sense of humor raise their positivity by 33%. We should foster our sense of humor and learn to not take things so seriously. We should learn to laugh at our selves. Those who are able to do so, can live lighter and brighter. It is good to see cheerful films, read funny books, and to visit joyful people.
Happy people believe in themselves. They believe in their goals, their wisdom, and their power. They see themselves as winners. They know they will prevail in the long term. In a world of doubt, all followers of the way of bliss need inner strength in order to go about their way successfully. The followers of inner happiness need a clear anchor in terms of wisdom, self-discipline, and self-confidence to avoid being brought back by materialism and doubt.
The ethics of transcendence
Jonathan Haidt is an American psychology professor. He wrote the book The Happiness Hypothesis in which he combines ancient philosophical and spiritual knowledge with the latest happiness research. His main teaching is the ethics of transcendence (living in God). Psychologically, it is shown that a person has in his brain an area for experiences of God. The enlightened one is happier than an unenlightened. Religion makes you happy, if not lived too dogmatic and intolerantly.
Haidt sees himself as an atheist, who does not believe in God, but advocates for reasons of inner happiness and health positive spiritual values, "If we rely on balanced wisdom - old and new, eastern and western, liberal and conservative - we can choose directions in our life that lead to satisfaction, happiness and a sense of purpose."(Jonathan Haidt, page 315.)
Positive psychology emphasizes positive values
Sonja Lyubomirsky is one of America's happiness researchers. She is a professor and wrote the international bestseller The How of Happiness.(Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness. 2007.) She wondered what one can do if one wants to get a happy life. She accepted that, after the current state of research about 50% of a given human's happiness level is genetically determined. About 10% of happiness is affected by external living conditions, but 40% of happiness can be influenced by the mind of a person.
According to Lyubomirsky, the secret of lasting happiness is to turn our attention mainly to that 40% and constantly maintain our inner happiness. We should exercise regularly, avoid negative thoughts and encourage positive thoughts, maintain our social relationships and have a positive task in our lives. Many studies demonstrate the positive effects of meditation on our happiness, "Meditate every day. Begin with five minutes and increase to up to 20 minutes a day."(Sonja Lyubomirsky, supra, 257th page.)
Sonja Lyubomirsky developed a twelve-point program for personal happiness. The main point for her is gratitude. We should focus on the positives in our lives and be grateful. We should live according to principles such as optimism, joy, helpfulness, forgiveness, good social relationships, good health care and a positive task if we want to achieve a happy and fulfilling life.(Sonja Lyubomirsky, ibid, page 103 et seq.)
A happy society
Richard Layard (born 15 March 1934) is a British economist. He was founder-director in 1990 of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. He argues that people in the West could live happier lives, if instead of focusing on the growth of the outer wealth, they concentrated on the growth of inner happiness. At the moment the unbridled selfishness destroys the growth of general happiness. People in the West need a new philosophy on the basis of the happiness research. The goal should be the greatest happiness of all.(Richard Layard, Happiness, Lessons from a New Science, page 142.)
Richard Layard stated, "Although the people in the West have for decades got richer, they have not become happier. (...) Studies show that people are not happier today than 50 years ago. And this is despite the fact that the real median income in this period has more than doubled."(Richard Layard, Happiness, page 13.) On the contrary, people are getting richer externally, and internally unhappier. The likelihood of suffering from a clinical depression is now ten times as large as a century ago.(Sonja Lyubomirsky, ibid, page 49)
Bhutan is a small landlocked country in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China. Gross national happiness (GNH) is a concept introduced by the King of Bhutan in 1972 as an alternative to the Gross domestic product. Although the GNH framework reflects its Buddhist origins, it is based upon the empirical research of happiness, positive psychology and wellbeing. The philosophy of happiness of Bhutan rests on four pillars: a healthy environment, a good economy, a democratic government and the anchoring in a positive religion / culture.
- Philosophy of Happiness
- The Five Principles of Health
- Have a Happy Relationship
- Have a Happy Family
- Be a Happy Single
- Have a Happy Old Age
- Summary of recent happiness research (2010)
- Research Shows How Meditation Can Physically Change the Brain
- 5 Life Changing Ideas from Happiness Research
- Psychology of Well-Being
- Forbes on happiness research
- World Database of Happiness
- Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt (PDF)
- Happiness: A Revolution in Economics
- Matthieu Ricard: Habits of happiness (video)