It’s been a while since I’ve posted and now that I am going back to work after the privilege of having my second child in 2 years, I thought there was nothing more appropriate than starting where I left off and linking to this article. None of us are happy all the time, of course, but this article gives really helpful ideas about how to appreciate and increase the happiness we have.

balloons

Advertisements

 Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California has done some interesting research comparing people who describe themselves as happy or unhappy. She found that 40 per cent of our happiness is within our power to change! Lyubomirsky identified 12 scientifically robust ways in which we act and think that naturally enhance happiness.  

 1) Express gratitude. 

 2) Cultivate optimism: Lyubomirsky suggests imagining a future in which everything has turned out the way you want it and to write it down. 

 3) Avoid obsessing over things or paying too much attention to what others are doing. 

 4) Practise acts of kindness – more than you’re used to. 

 5) Make time for friends; be supportive and loyal. 

 6) Develop coping strategies: Lyubomirsky suggests writing down upsetting feelings and trying to see that traumatic events often make us stronger. If it is difficult to develop coping strategies alone seek some professional guidance

 7) Learn to forgive. 

 8) Immerse yourself in activities and be open to new ones. 

 9) Savour life’s pleasures: Lyubomirsky gives the example of lingering over something you enjoy to eat rather than mindlessly consuming it. 

 10) Work towards meaningful goals. 

 11) Practise religion or spirituality. 

 12) Exercise. 

 Of course not every one of these suggestions suits everybody and none of them produce immediate results, but the research does show that by pursuing these things happiness is likely to increase.  

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine 

 When we think forward or look back, we often reflect on how happiness fits into our lives. The pursuit of happiness is one of the most common goals of new psychotherapy clients. “I just want to be happy” is a well-heard phrase. So how can we be happier? What does the research say?

 Hannah Booth, of the Sydney Morning Herald, summarises a number of interesting research findings…

1) Think positively

Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina found that thinking positively has a positive effect on the body as well as the mind. Her research showed that positivity decreased blood pressure, pain and susceptibility to colds and increased sleep. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for example, highlights techniques that aim to lift mood by counteracting unhelpful thinking, such as over-generalisation and taking things personally.

2) Do

Daniel Gilbert from Harvard University explains why doing is better than not doing. Studies show that people tend to regret not having done things much more than they regret things they have done. This is perhaps because it is easier to accept doing something we regret, as we consider ourselves active and courageous. We can console our regret by thinking about what we have learned from the experience. 

3) Meditate

Daniel Goleman, Psychologist and author advocates the benefit of meditation. He writes: “Meditation helps us better manage our reactions to stress and recover more quickly from disturbing events. This is key to happiness.” Goleman cites a study where workers in stressful jobs practiced mediation for eight weeks. After just two months they felt happier and reported they liked their work more. One way to consider happiness is the ability to recover quickly from upset. Goleman advises that when we start to get upset, let go of the negative thought, deal with the problem and then let go of that too.

4) Be kind

Paul Gilbert, from the University of Derby, UK, highlights how important it is that we relate to ourselves with kindness. When we are self-critical we damage our wellbeing, contentedness and ability to cope.

5) Find meaning

Jonathan Haidt, a Psychologist at the University of Virginia, emphasises the amount of time we spend doing things that give us personal meaning and a sense of connection. He cites quality time with loved ones, holidays and other enjoyable activities. Becoming involved with something you believe in, such as religion, politics or teaching or doing something creative are also good examples.   

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

 

 What happens if you ask a child to delay gratification? Take a look at this video…

 

 

 Joachim De Posada gives a very interesting interpretation of the marshmallow experiment. Could this be the exlpanation of success?

 

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

 Research, no matter from which discipline, provides us with rich data to help us develop our understandings about the world we live in, the way we live, our own selves and so on. Humans are often described as natural scientists, that is, from the moment we are born we are curious and we yearn for knowledge and understanding.

 There are many theories about knowledge, as the philosophy of epistemology explores. Epistemology wonders: ‘how do we know what we know’ or perhaps even: ‘how do we know what we think we know?’ Some theories of knowledge, such as those from the natural sciences, assume that there is always a truth ‘out there’ to be discovered and as long as we have access to the appropriate tools we can discover it. Other theories, such as the theory of social constructionism, view the world as a collection of negotiated understandings created via culture and language; that there is no one real truth to be discoverd; we simply reach agreements about things we decide to name truths.

 In western society we are educated to particularly value scientific knowledge and to pursue objective facts through quantitative research. We are most often convinced by statistics and scientific fact. However, whilst enjoying the fruits of research and valuing academic endeavour, it is vital that, in the spirit of academic rigour, we always retain a critical stance towards our pursuit for knowledge.

 For example, in an analysis of American Psychological Association (APA) research journals between 2003 and 2007, it was found that 68% of psychological research participants were from the US and 96% were from Western industrialised countries, mainly North America, Europe, Australia, and Israel (Arnett, 2008). This means that 96% of psychological samples came from countries with only 12% of the world’s population. Arnett raises concern that “the result is an understanding of psychology that is incomplete and does not adequately represent humanity… the majority of the world’s population lives in conditions vastly different from the conditions of Americans [who are the vast majority of psychological research participants].”

 A philosophy of science that emphasises fundamental processes and does not give significant weight to cultural context would not find this state of affairs troublesome. However, I believe it does raise the question: how culturally valid is our research in Psychology? That is, are we taking enough care to ensure that we are realistic about the generalisability and validity of our research findings?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

 

 One of the most frequently asked questions about therapy is whether it is worth the expense?  Certainly beginning a course of therapy is a financial commitment and of course we want to know if it is likely to ‘pay off’.

 A study by Chris Boyce at the University of Warwick, England reported by the Bet Israel Deconess Medical Center, has found some interesting results. By examining data from thousands of people who had provided information about their mental well-being, it was found that the increase in happiness from a $1,329 course of therapy was so significant that it would take a pay raise of more than $41,542 to achieve an equal boost in well-being. This means that therapy could be perhaps as much as 32 times more cost-effective at improving well-being than receiving money. 

 Boyce explains that “often the importance of money for improving our well-being and bringing greater happiness is vastly over-valued in our societies. The benefits of having good mental health, on the other hand, are often not fully appreciated and people do not realize the powerful effect that psychological therapy, such as non-directive counseling, can have on improving our well-being.”

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

A beautifully wise poem by Portia Nelson:

 

Chapter 1

I walked down the street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless
It isn’t my fault
It takes forever to get out

Chapter 2

I walked down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk
I pretend I don’t see it
I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place
But it isn’t my fault
It still takes a long time to get out

Chapter 3

I walked down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk
I see it there
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open. I know where I am.
It is my fault
I get out immediately

Chapter 4

I walked down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine