Everyone wants to be happy and many people have advice on how to achieve happiness. Much of this advice is anecdotal. What Sonja Lyubomirsky offers is a comprehensive guide based on scientific research, the first book about becoming happier authored by someone who has actually conducted research about how to succeed in accomplishing this in our lives. Not only does she give us twelve activities with empirical support as to their effectiveness, she gives us a unifying theory as to why these activities help make us happy. She gives us twelve strategies to select from, not one, because there is no one secret to happiness. Do we have complete control over our happiness? Do we have none? Dr. Lyubomirsky tells us that studies show that on average, 50 % of our happiness is genetically determined. Some people are born with a greater proclivity toward happiness. Yes, these people are the lucky ones. But what if you’re not one of them, then what? Dr. Lyubomirsky also tells us that, unlike what many people might think, on average only 10% of what generates our happiness are the life circumstances we find ourselves in. This leaves 40%. This is what we have control over. It takes daily effort and commitment to make permanent changes that will affect our happiness. Is it worth the effort? Studies show that happier people live linger, are healthier, are more sociable and energetic, more charitable and cooperative, better liked by others, are more likely to get and stay married, have a richer network of friends and social support. You can take her Subjective Happiness Scale to see how your level of happiness compares with that of others. You can take the Person-Activity Fit Diagnostic measure to find out which of the twelve activities are most likely to add to your happiness. You’ll rate these activities as to how natural, enjoyable and valuable they are for you. It is definitely worth getting the book to find out about these twelve activities and how to implement in your life on a daily basis. Dr. Lyubomirsky posits that knowing why these activities work will increase the chance that they will work for you. She discusses five qualities that sustain happiness over the long run. The first is that each of the twelve intentional happiness activities will increase the frequency of your experiencing positive emotions. She notes these activities can be frequently initiated, reinitiated and adjusted to yield a continual flow of positive experiences and positive feelings. Secondly, it is essential to time your activities in ways that deliver to you the greatest satisfaction and joy. We get used to what we repeat; therefore, it is necessary to vary your activities to avoid them from becoming too predictable and mundane. The third key is social support. Any changes you make to work to increase your happiness will be more long-lasting if they have the support of those around you. Fourth, you need motivation. The benefits last as long as you practice the strategies. Studies show that more motivated subjects become happier than nonmotivated subjects. Fifth, it is more likely that you will continue your happiness-generating activities if you can make initiating them into habits, behaviors that you do automatically. Just don’t do them the exact same way each time lest you run the risk of adapting to them and becoming bored with them. Well, that’s the theory of how to maintain these activities. Consult the book to identify which of the twelve activities work for you. You’ll be happy you did.
If you want to learn more about how to be happy- call Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678.