Article summary of Very happy people by Diener & Seligman. (1)


What is this article about?

This is a research report of an experiment where 222 undergraduates were screened for high happiness. The upper 10% of consistently very happy people were compared with average people and very unhappy people. This study has tried to find out what some factor might be that influence high happiness: social relationships, personality and psychopathology, and variables that have been related to subjective well-being in correlational studies. It also examined whether there was a variable that was sufficient for happiness and a variable that was necessary for happiness (sufficient: everyone with the variable is happy, necessary: every happy person has the variable).

What were the results?

On a scale from 5 to 35, the very happy group scored about 30 on life satisfaction. The very happy people had virtually never thought about suicide, could recall many more good events in their lives than bad ones, and had many more positive than negative emotions on a daily basis. The very unhappy people were dissatisfied with life and had equal amounts of positive and negative affect on a daily basis. They reported this about themselves, but their friends and family also rated them dissatisfied. The average group was in the middle of these two groups. 

The biggest difference between the very happy group and the average and very unhappy group, was in their fulsome and satisfying interpersonal lives. The very happy people spent the least time alone and the most time socializing and valued their relationships the highest. Good social relationships might be a necessary condition for high happiness.

The very happy people also scored the lowest on psychopathology tests, virtually never in the clinical range. Almost half of the very unhappy group scored in the clinical range. 

Also good to note, was that the verry happy people never reported their mood to be "ecstatic", but they did score their mood with a 7, 8 or 9 most of the time.

Broader samples and longitudinal methods are needed to make strong conclusions from these results. These findings do suggest that very happy people have rich and satisfying social relationships and spend little time alone. But it is not yet clear what the causal relationship is here: perhaps happy people have better relationships because of their happiness, or happiness and good relationships are both caused by a third variable. What is clear is that social relationships might be a necessary but are not a sufficient condition for high happiness. Very happy people also experience unpleasant emotions and rarely feel euphoria or ecstacy. They are rather medium to moderatly happy most of the time.

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The Positivity Bundle: content and contributions about optimism ..and a half full glass

A review of the causes and consequences of optimism (summary)

A review of the causes and consequences of optimism (summary)

Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism

Forgeard, M., & Seligman, M. (2012). Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism. Pratiques Psychologiques, 18(2), 107-120.

The psychological trait of optimism influences how individuals perceive themselves and their environment, how they process incoming information, as well as how they decide to act based on this information. Pessimists often behave in ways that are geared towards worst-case scenarios, while optimists tend to trust that the future will be favourable. According to past research, optimism and pessimism appear to have a particularly important effect on how individuals deal with challenging and stressful events. Even so, many people dismiss the effect of optimism, calling optimists naïve or in denial. This is because pessimism and its realistic view of the world seem appealing and rational when contrasted with the popular notion that optimism equates with foolishness, naiveté or denial; however, research shows that the way in which psychologists think of optimism does not involve forced enthusiasm or denial of the truth

What is Optimism?

Anthropologist Lionel Tiger defines optimism as “a mood or attitude associated with an expectation about the social or material future – one which the evaluator regards as socially desirable, to his [or her] advantage, or for his [or her] pleasure”. This means that optimism is a cognitive, affective and motivational construct - optimists both think and feel positively about the future.

The two ways in which researchers have operationalized optimism are the optimistic explanatory style approach, and the dispositional optimism approach

Optimistic Explanatory Style

This approach, developed by Seligman et al., is inspired by the observation that most (but not all) animals and humans give up when exposed to uncontrollable stressors and remain helpless when the situation becomes controllable. This behaviour is otherwise known as "learned helplessness." Helpless is associated with a pessimistic explanatory style; pessimists believe that negatives events are always present ("things will never change in the future"), have a global effect ("this negative event has ruined my entire life"), and is the fault of their own. Pessimists also often do not take credit for good events, attributing their occurrence to luck. Additionally, they perceive positive events as short-lived (“I just performed well today but who knows what will happen tomorrow”), and only affect one aspect of their lives (“I may be good at this but I’m otherwise pretty stupid”).

The optimistic explanatory style is therefore the opposite. Optimists do acknowledge negative events, but see them as specific (“other things are still going well”) and unstable (“things will get better soon”). They think negative events in a constructive, non-fatalistic manner and trust in their ability to deal with stressful problems.

The main instruments used to assess optimistic explanatory style are the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) and Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE), which ask people (through open-ended questions that are eventually coded) how events are caused. In both methods, the extent to which people think

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Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism - Forgeard & Seligman - Article

Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism - Forgeard & Seligman - Article


What is this article about?

Optimism as a psychological trait has gained an increasing amount of interest from scientists during the past couple of decades. Various studies have shown that optimism is related to important benefits. In this study, a review is presented that summarizes the findings from this body of research.

What are the two main ways in which researchers have defined and operationalized optimism?

Optimism is a psychological trait that influences individuals perceive themselves and their environment, how they process incoming information, and how they decide to act based on that information. Optimism concerns a cognitive, affective, and motivational aspect. Whereas optimists tend to believe that the future will be favorable, pessimists tend to believe that the future will have bad events in store for them. Both optimism and pessimism therefore act as powerful cognitive filters that alter an individuals' perception of the world and influence how the individual reacts and adapts to new situations, in particular challenging and stressful events.

In psychology, a distinction can be made between two main conceptions of optimism as described in the literature: optimistic explanatory style and dispositional optimism.

Optimistic explanatory style

The conceptualization of optimism as an exploratory style was developed by Seligman and colleagues (1991). This conceptualization was inspired by the finding that most humans (and animals) give up and become helpless when they are exposed to uncontrollable stressors. After this, they act helpless even when stressors are controllable again. This phenomenon is called learned helplessness. Individuals who display learned helplessness tend to have a pessimistic explanatory style. They believe negative events are stable and have far reaching consequences ("My life is ruined now"). Often, they blame themselves for the negative events ("It is my fault"). In addition, they commonly do not take credit for positive events ("I was just lucky"). 

Opposite to the pessimistic style is the optimistic explanatory style. This is referred to individuals who never become helpless. They believe negative events are unstable ("Things will go better soon") and specific ("Perhaps this is going less well, but other things are still going well"). Optimists, according to this perspective, acknowledge the presence of bad events, but they consider them in a constructive, non-fatalistic manner.

Dispositional optimism

The second perspective is developed by Schreier and Carver (2009). Here, optimism

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Optimism in close relationships: How seeing things in a positive light makes them so - Srivastava, McGonigal, Richards, Butler, Gross (2006) - Article

Optimism in close relationships: How seeing things in a positive light makes them so - Srivastava, McGonigal, Richards, Butler, Gross (2006) - Article

What is this article about?

The central question in this article is whether optimists and their romantic partners are more satisfied in their relationships and - if this is the case - this is due to optimists who experience greater support from their partners. It appears that couples in conflict conversations are more constructive when they are more optimistic and they solve their problems better. Optimism seems to promote a variety of beneficial processes in romantic relationships.

What are the most important concepts in this chapter?

The most important concepts in this chapter are optimism, relationship satisfaction, perceived support and close relationships.


About the effect of optimism in close relationships

What is this article about?

The central question in this article is whether optimists and their romantic partners are more satisfied in their relationships and - if this is the case - this is due to optimists who experience greater support from their partners. It appears that couples in conflict conversations are more constructive when they are more optimistic and they solve their problems better. Optimism seems to promote a variety of beneficial processes in romantic relationships.

What are the most important concepts in this chapter?

The most important concepts in this chapter are optimism, relationship satisfaction, perceived support and close relationships.

What forms social perceptions?

Social perception arises in the spirit of the person who perceives it. This can be a fact that has very real consequences for his social life. This is especially true for romantic relationships.

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The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment - WorldSupporter Theme

The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment - WorldSupporter Theme

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The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment (contentions)

  • Happiness elements are those elements (conditions, values) that lead to a satisfied life, a satisfied group or a satisfied society.
  • These are elements that play a role in the degree of satisfaction you could have as a person or as a group of people (organization, family).
  • These elements
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Article summary of Very happy people by Diener & Seligman. (1)

Article summary of Very happy people by Diener & Seligman. (1)


What is this article about?

This is a research report of an experiment where 222 undergraduates were screened for high happiness. The upper 10% of consistently very happy people were compared with average people and very unhappy people. This study has tried to find out what some factor might be that influence high happiness: social relationships, personality and psychopathology, and variables that have been related to subjective well-being in correlational studies. It also examined whether there was a variable that was sufficient for happiness and a variable that was necessary for happiness (sufficient: everyone with the variable is happy, necessary: every happy person has the variable).

What were the results?

On a scale from 5 to 35, the very happy group scored about 30 on life satisfaction. The very happy people had virtually never thought about suicide, could recall many more good events in their lives than bad ones, and had many more positive than negative emotions on a daily basis. The very unhappy people were dissatisfied with life and had equal amounts of positive and negative affect on a daily basis. They reported this about themselves, but their friends and family also rated them dissatisfied. The average group was in the middle of these two groups. 

The biggest difference between the very happy group and the average and very unhappy group, was in their fulsome and satisfying interpersonal lives. The very happy people spent the least time alone and the most time socializing and valued their relationships the highest. Good social relationships might be a necessary condition for high happiness.

The very happy people also scored the lowest on psychopathology tests, virtually never in the clinical range. Almost half of the very unhappy group scored in the clinical range. 

Also good to note, was that the verry happy people never reported their mood to be "ecstatic", but they did score their mood with a 7, 8 or 9 most of the time.

Broader samples and longitudinal methods are needed to make strong conclusions from these results. These findings do suggest that very happy people have rich and satisfying social relationships and spend little time alone. But it is not yet clear what the causal relationship is here: perhaps happy people have better relationships because of their happiness, or happiness and good relationships are both caused by a third variable. What is clear is that social relationships might be a necessary but are not a sufficient condition for high happiness. Very happy people also experience unpleasant emotions and rarely feel euphoria or ecstacy. They are rather medium to moderatly happy most of the time.

.....read more
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Articlesummary with Very happy people by Diener & Seligman (2)

Articlesummary with Very happy people by Diener & Seligman (2)


What is this article about?

This is a research report of an experiment where 222 undergraduates were screened for high happiness. The upper 10% of consistently very happy people were compared with average people and very unhappy people. This study has tried to find out what some factor might be that influence high happiness: social relationships, personality and psychopathology, and variables that have been related to subjective well-being in correlational studies. It also examined whether there was a variable that was sufficient for happiness and a variable that was necessary for happiness (sufficient: everyone with the variable is happy, necessary: every happy person has the variable).

What were the results?

On a scale from 5 to 35, the very happy group scored about 30 on life satisfaction. The very happy people had virtually never thought about suicide, could recall many more good events in their lives than bad ones, and had many more positive than negative emotions on a daily basis. The very unhappy people were dissatisfied with life and had equal amounts of positive and negative affect on a daily basis. They reported this about themselves, but their friends and family also rated them dissatisfied. The average group was in the middle of these two groups.

The biggest difference between the very happy group and the average and very unhappy group, was in their fulsome and satisfying interpersonal lives. The very happy people spent the least time alone and the most time socializing and valued their relationships the highest. Good social relationships might be a necessary condition for high happiness.

The very happy people also scored the lowest on psychopathology tests, virtually never in the clinical range. Almost half of the very unhappy group scored in the clinical range.

Also good to note, was that the verry happy people never reported their mood to be "ecstatic", but they did score their mood with a 7, 8 or 9 most of the time.

Broader samples and longitudinal methods are needed to make strong conclusions from these results. These findings do suggest that very happy people have rich and satisfying social relationships and spend little time alone. But it is not yet clear what the causal relationship is here: perhaps happy people have better relationships because of their happiness, or happiness and good relationships are both caused by a third variable. What is clear is that social relationships might be a necessary but are not a sufficient condition for high happiness. Very happy people also experience unpleasant emotions and rarely feel euphoria or ecstacy. They are rather medium to moderatly happy most of the time.

.....read more
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Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life - Baumeister e.a. - Article

Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life - Baumeister e.a. - Article


What is this article about?

Two of the most widely held goals by which people measure and motivate themselves are happiness and a meaningful life. In this article, the relationship between these two goals is discussed. More specifically, although there certainly is (much) overlap between these two, the focus here is on the differences.

How can happiness be defined?

Happiness generally refers to a state of subjective well-being. Happiness be may narrowly or broadly focused: one can be happy to have found a lost key, but one can also be happy that the war has ended. Happiness is conceptualized and measured by researcher in at least two different manners. The first one concerns affect balance, which suggests that happiness is an aggregate of how one feels at different moment. Happiness is then defined as having more pleasant than unpleasant emotional states. The second one concerns life satisfaction, which goes beyond momentary feelings. It refers to an integrative, evaluative assessment of one's entire life. Generally, assessing both of these provides a useful index of subjective well-being.

How can a meaningful life be defined?

Meaningfulness is considered to concern both a cognitive and emotional assessment of whether one's life has purpose and value.

What is the central theorem of the theory that is being proposed in this article?

The authors suggest that the simpler form of happiness (affect balance instead of life satisfaction), at least, is rooted in nature. Every living creature has biological needs, such as wanting to survive and reproduce. Basic motivations make one to pursue and enjoy those needs. Affect balance then depends to a certain degree on whether these basic needs are being satisfied.

While happiness is natural, meaningfulness may depend on culture. In every culture language is being used as a means to use and communicate meanings. Meaningfulness, thus, makes use of culturally transmitted symbols (via language) as a means to evaluate one's life in relation to purposes, values, and other meanings that are also frequently learned from the culture. Thus, meaning is more associated with one's culture than happiness is. An important feature of meaning is that it is not limited to immediately present stimuli

.....read more
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The Happiness Bundle: content and contributions about the science of happiness

Article summary of Very happy people by Diener & Seligman. (1)

Article summary of Very happy people by Diener & Seligman. (1)


What is this article about?

This is a research report of an experiment where 222 undergraduates were screened for high happiness. The upper 10% of consistently very happy people were compared with average people and very unhappy people. This study has tried to find out what some factor might be that influence high happiness: social relationships, personality and psychopathology, and variables that have been related to subjective well-being in correlational studies. It also examined whether there was a variable that was sufficient for happiness and a variable that was necessary for happiness (sufficient: everyone with the variable is happy, necessary: every happy person has the variable).

What were the results?

On a scale from 5 to 35, the very happy group scored about 30 on life satisfaction. The very happy people had virtually never thought about suicide, could recall many more good events in their lives than bad ones, and had many more positive than negative emotions on a daily basis. The very unhappy people were dissatisfied with life and had equal amounts of positive and negative affect on a daily basis. They reported this about themselves, but their friends and family also rated them dissatisfied. The average group was in the middle of these two groups. 

The biggest difference between the very happy group and the average and very unhappy group, was in their fulsome and satisfying interpersonal lives. The very happy people spent the least time alone and the most time socializing and valued their relationships the highest. Good social relationships might be a necessary condition for high happiness.

The very happy people also scored the lowest on psychopathology tests, virtually never in the clinical range. Almost half of the very unhappy group scored in the clinical range. 

Also good to note, was that the verry happy people never reported their mood to be "ecstatic", but they did score their mood with a 7, 8 or 9 most of the time.

Broader samples and longitudinal methods are needed to make strong conclusions from these results. These findings do suggest that very happy people have rich and satisfying social relationships and spend little time alone. But it is not yet clear what the causal relationship is here: perhaps happy people have better relationships because of their happiness, or happiness and good relationships are both caused by a third variable. What is clear is that social relationships might be a necessary but are not a sufficient condition for high happiness. Very happy people also experience unpleasant emotions and rarely feel euphoria or ecstacy. They are rather medium to moderatly happy most of the time.

.....read more
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IBP Social Psychology Summary - Dealing with Adversity and Achieving a Happy Life -ch 12

IBP Social Psychology Summary - Dealing with Adversity and Achieving a Happy Life -ch 12

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Social and Organizational Psychology

IBP 2017-2018

 

 

Dealing with Adversity and Achieving a Happy Life

 

Stress: a contributing factor to psychological and physical health problems

  • Can stem from traumatic events, or frequent daily hassles
  • Interferes with the operation of the body’s immune system, and can be measured at the cellular level
  • Stress can be reduced by social support

Loneliness: when a person has fewer and less satisfying relationships than desired

  • If you see your personality as “fixed”: you are likely to react to rejection by cutting yourself off from others
  • If you perceive yourself as capable of change: experience rejection as an opportunity for future improvement or growth
  • Interventions related to self-change help to improve people’s resilience in the face of stress and reduce the likelihood of depression

Discrimination

  • Experiencing discrimination based on disability, sexual minorities, and weight, is associated with harm to well-being
  • Weight discrimination predicts mortality

Improving mental health

  • Regular exercise
  • Social support has shown to be beneficial for people with PTSD
  • Joining groups can foster social connectedness and help prevent depression
  • Practicing self-forgiveness

Is the legal system fair?

  • Understand potential sources of error and bias within the current system
  • Lineups used to identify criminal suspects are subject to bias if all the suspects are shown at once (simultaneous lineup)
  • In legal proceedings, defendants’ race, gender, physical attractiveness, and socioeconomic status can influence jurors’ perceptions and judgments

Happiness: often referred to as subjective well-being with four basic components:

  • global life satisfaction
  • satisfaction with specific life domains
  • a high level of positive feelings
  • a minimum of negative feelings

 

Several factors consistently account for a nations’ average happiness levels:

  • degree of social support
  • per capita income
  • healthy life expectancy
  • freedom to make life choices
  • generosity toward others
  • amount of violence
  • degree of corruption

On being happy:

  • Happy people are more community-oriented than unhappy people
  • Monetary wealth beyond a certain point does not necessarily increase happiness
  • The optimum level of well-being theory: very high levels of happiness can foster complacency or lead to unjustified overoptimism
  • Growing evidence supports the idea that happiness levels are fundamentally changeable
  • Many of the characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur are the same ones that contribute to happiness levels
    • Self-determination theory: entrepreneurs typically have strong intrinsic motivation

 

 

References:

Baron, R., & Branscombe, N. (2016). Social psychology (14th edition)

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Science of Happiness articles

Science of Happiness articles

Article summary with Beyond the hedonic treadmill: Revising the adaptation theory of well-being - Diener, E. et al.

What is this article about?

The hedonic treadmill model is a model that supposes that good and bad events can only temporarily affect happiness. According to this model, everyone always adapts back to hedonic neutrality. This leads to the conclusion that it is pointless to try and increase happiness. The poorest diseased beggar with no social connections could be just as happy as the healthy billionaire with a lot of close and supportive relationships. But is this really true? This article will make five important revisions to the hedonic treadmill model:

  1. Individuals' set points are not hedonically neutral.
  2. People have different set points, partly depending on their temperaments.
  3. A single person may have multiple happiness set points.
  4. Well-being set points can change under some conditions.
  5. Individuals differ in their adaptation to events.

 

What is the hedonic treadmill theory?

In 1971, Brickman and Campbell came up with the hedonic treadmill. According to them, processes similar to sensory adaptation occur when people experience emotional reactions to life events. Just like we get used to sensory input and are quickly not aware anymore of smells or sounds, we adapt to emotions as well. Myers added to this theory that every desirable experience is transitory. According to the original treadmill theory of Brickman and Campbell, people briefly react to good and bad events, but in a short time they return to neutrality. The theory is based on the automatic habituation model in which psychological systems react to deviations from one's current adaptation level. Automatic habituation processes are adaptive because they allow constant stimuli to fade into the background.

In 1978, Brickman, Coates, and Janoff-Bulman offered initial empirical support for the treadmill model. Brickman had for example studied lottery winners and found that they were not happier than nonwinners. It was also found that people with paraplegia, an impairment in the motor and sensory function of the lower body, were not less happy than people who could walk. The idea of hedonic adaptation was appealing in psychology because it offered an explanation for the observation that people appear to be relatively stable in happiness despite changes in fortune. The theory was widely accepted in psychology. Evidence frequently supported the idea. There soon came longitudinal studies that tracked changes in happiness over time. These studies provided more direct evidence that adaptation can occur. For instance, Silver found that people with spinal cord injuries had strong negative emotions after their crippling accident, but that these negative emotions had already faded after two months. 

 

What revisions can be made to the original hedonic treadmill model?

Are set points always neutral? 

The first revision that can be made, is that set points might not always be neutral. The original treadmill theory suggested that people return to a neutral set point after an emotionally significant event. Research now shows that this part of the theory is wrong. Most

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Science of Happiness EN artikelen
Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life - Baumeister e.a. - Article

Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life - Baumeister e.a. - Article


What is this article about?

Two of the most widely held goals by which people measure and motivate themselves are happiness and a meaningful life. In this article, the relationship between these two goals is discussed. More specifically, although there certainly is (much) overlap between these two, the focus here is on the differences.

How can happiness be defined?

Happiness generally refers to a state of subjective well-being. Happiness be may narrowly or broadly focused: one can be happy to have found a lost key, but one can also be happy that the war has ended. Happiness is conceptualized and measured by researcher in at least two different manners. The first one concerns affect balance, which suggests that happiness is an aggregate of how one feels at different moment. Happiness is then defined as having more pleasant than unpleasant emotional states. The second one concerns life satisfaction, which goes beyond momentary feelings. It refers to an integrative, evaluative assessment of one's entire life. Generally, assessing both of these provides a useful index of subjective well-being.

How can a meaningful life be defined?

Meaningfulness is considered to concern both a cognitive and emotional assessment of whether one's life has purpose and value.

What is the central theorem of the theory that is being proposed in this article?

The authors suggest that the simpler form of happiness (affect balance instead of life satisfaction), at least, is rooted in nature. Every living creature has biological needs, such as wanting to survive and reproduce. Basic motivations make one to pursue and enjoy those needs. Affect balance then depends to a certain degree on whether these basic needs are being satisfied.

While happiness is natural, meaningfulness may depend on culture. In every culture language is being used as a means to use and communicate meanings. Meaningfulness, thus, makes use of culturally transmitted symbols (via language) as a means to evaluate one's life in relation to purposes, values, and other meanings that are also frequently learned from the culture. Thus, meaning is more associated with one's culture than happiness is. An important feature of meaning is that it is not limited to immediately present stimuli

.....read more
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Study guide with articlesummaries for Science of Happiness at the University of Utrecht

Study guide with articlesummaries for Science of Happiness at the University of Utrecht

Articlesummaries with Science of Happiness at the University of Utrecht

Table of content

  • Revising the adaptation theory of well-being
  • Strengths and weaknesses of self-report measures of subjective well-being
  • Is the study of happiness a worthy scientific pursuit?
  • Non-traditional measures of subjective well-being and their validity
  • Concepts and components of well-being
  • What are the possibility, desirability, and justifiability of happiness?
  • Three revolutions in the global history of happiness
  • What is well-being?
  • What is eudaimonia?
  • The relationship between cognitive outlooks and well-being
  • Affective forecasting and impact bias explained
  • Factors that might influence high happiness
  • The dark side of happiness
  • Increasing happiness
  • The Sustainable Happiness Model (SHM)
  • Using Positive Psychological Interventions (PPIs) to increase subjective well-being
  • Impact of the size and scope of government on human well-being
  • Well-being in metrics and policy
  • Subjective well-being and national satisfaction
  • Can and should happiness be a policy goal?
  • Including subjective well-being measures in government policies
  • The relationship between materialism and well-being
  • Affect and emotions as drivers of climate change perception and action
  • How pro-environmental behavior can both thwart and foster well-being
  • The relationship between social bonds and well-being
  • The relationship between social capital, prosocial behavior, and subjective well-being
  • Marriage, parenthood and well-being
  • The relationship between close relationships and health
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The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment - WorldSupporter Theme

The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment - WorldSupporter Theme

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The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment (contentions)

  • Happiness elements are those elements (conditions, values) that lead to a satisfied life, a satisfied group or a satisfied society.
  • These are elements that play a role in the degree of satisfaction you could have as a person or as a group of people (organization, family).
  • These elements
........Read more
The Promise of Sustainable Happiness (summary)

The Promise of Sustainable Happiness (summary)

The Promise of Sustainable Happiness

Boehm, J. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (in press). The promise of sustainable happiness. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), Handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press

The article suggests that, despite several barriers withholding people to increase their well-being, less happy people can successfully strive to be happier by learning a variety of effortful strategies and practicing these with determination and commitment. They use the sustainable happiness model (by Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade, 2005) as theoretical framework. According to the model, three factors contribute to an individual’s happiness level:

  • The set point

  • Life circumstances

  • Intentional activities/effortful acts that are episodic and naturally variable

The journey to happiness has always and still is of great interest, there is empirical evidence that it even leads to positive life outcomes such as a higher income and stronger relationships. The question, however, is whether people can actually attain a level of sustainable happiness.

To answer this question, we first we look at what happy and unhappy people are like:

The first thing that comes to mind is the difference between their ‘objective’ circumstances that could cause a difference in their level of happiness. Some examples include: marital status, age, sex, culture, income etc. It is shown, however, that these factors do not explain the variation in people’s level of well-being.

The article proposes that happiness and unhappiness is due to the subjective experience and construal of the world by people. They interpret their environment differently, leading the authors to explore an individual thoughts, behaviors and motivations. Happier people see the world in a more positive, and thus happiness-promoting, way. Research suggests that happy people are this way because of multiple adaptive strategies:

Construal

Research that involved having happy and unhappy people reflect on similar hypothetical situations / actual life events, revealed that happy people view these events as more pleasant, while unhappy people view these same events as unfavourable..

Social comparison

Findings suggest that people that are happy are less sensitive to feedback about another person or his or her performance (favourable and unfavourable feedback). When performing ‘better’ on a task, all participants became more confident about their skills; however when the other was better, happy people were unaffected while unhappy people were, negatively. Unhappy people seem to feel positive emotions when a peer has done worse than them, even if they both got negative feedback. When they got positive feedback but performed at a lower level than a peer, they felt negative emotions. This was the case in both individual and group settings.

Decision-making

When happy people make life-altering decisions, they tend to be satisfied with their possible options, and only express negative emotions when their sense of self is threatened. Conversely, unhappy people were generally unhappy withthe options offered to them. Happy and unhappy people also differ in how they make decisions in the face of many options. Research suggests that happy individuals are relatively more

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  4. Follow authors or (study) organizations: by following individual users, authors and your study organizations you are likely to discover more relevant study materials.
  5. Search tool : 'quick & dirty'- not very elegant but the fastest way to find a specific summary of a book or study assistance with a specific course or subject. The search tool is also available at the bottom of most pages

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Quicklinks to fields of study (main tags and taxonomy terms)

Field of study

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