In an article from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkley the author, James McConchie, PhD, looks at two of the great minds from the field of positive psychology and shares what he has found from their body of work. The author provides ten lessons learned from these two giants in the field, Ed Diener and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Starting with these ten lessons you are provided with additional commentary that you can use to be happier and more productive
1. Our wellbeing can (and should) be examined scientifically
Positive psychology grew out of the analysis that started with how we are deficient. Turning the perspective from deficiency and abnormal psychology to positive psychology examines what is right about us as human beings and we can improve on this perspective. Today the scientific area of positive psychology includes an emphasis from gratitude to grit. There is a tremendous amount of information available. This is a field that is growing exponentially.
2. Happiness is (mostly) about other people
Having caring, considerate, close relationships with family and/or friends is extremely important. Having connected relationships with others is also associated with not only happiness, but living healthier, longer, and better lives. Relations connect to our emotions and allow us to bond with others. When we are connected we are calmer, more compassionate, considerate, and feel more competent.
3. We should strive for flow
We appreciate being good at something, having that appreciated, and pushing ourselves to be better. Everyone needs to feel appreciated. It could be a sport, an activity (cooking, crafts, art, chess), a social group, a profession, a field of study, or about anything. When we are emotionally connected and feel good about what we are doing, we tend to be at our peak performance, and we may be an inspiration to others too. Others notice and you notice how you feel that you are truly making a difference in the lives of others.
4. Money can buy happiness … to a degree
Money is not a bad thing. The love of money can lead to many bad things. If you are poor, must focus on simply getting buy, then yes money matters to survive. Not having money or getting by and having something like a severe accident or illness can be terribly negative. Having to fear things like this can be extremely negative. Having the ability to have food, shelter, healthcare, and a safety net go a long way towards happiness. Conspicuous consumption and over consumption do not buy happiness. You might ask yourself now much is enough? Check this out. High income improves life, but not necessarily emotional well being
5. There are many parts to our well being
Struggles and frustration are a part of life. Life is hard. Simply trying to be happy does not make it. Everyone experiences difficulties. How you deal with them is what matters. You attitude to be patient, persistent, and focused can make all the difference in difficult times. To strive to go on, take a more difficult path, and learn from the experience are consistent attributes of happier people. Happier people often look at the longer term and are willing to sacrifice for those longer-term benefits. For example, for their children, their retirement, or the ability to leave a legacy to others.
6. Happiness is good for your health
Healthier people live longer. Go figure. If you focus on going to bed and getting up at about the same time each day this correlates with being healthier. Eating right, doing some physical activity (note for some people exercise is a bad word), and getting enough sleep make you healthier and happier at the same time. You know this. Why don’t you do this? Can you do this? Can you make small changes that turn into habits to make this happen? Why? These actions indeed can make you healthier and happier.
7. We do not like TV as much as we think we do
My mother used to refer to the TV as the robber. It robs your time from you doing something else. For example, reading, interacting with others face to face, studying, playing, helping others, and other activities. The limit for me growing up was no more than an hour a day plus up to an hour of news or PBS. Mom was wiser than she knew. How much time should you spend watching TV, movies, playing online, or surfing the internet? Researchers suggest no more than 2 hours a day. How much we watch per day varies quite a bit by age group with younger people watching far less TV than older adults, but keep in mind other screen time with phones, tablets, and other sources.
8. It is not just about individuals, but also institutions and society, which contribute to well being
Ed Diener researched this and found that societies and cultures having varying perspectives on this topic. There is no one size fits all. His suggestion is for governments to research this about their people. In a diverse society like ours, this refers to diversity on a host of different scales since we are hardly a homogeneous society.
9. Your well-being can change
Your definition of happiness can change dramatically. If your community and safety system were wiped out by a tornado, being alive and numb may give you a new perspective on reality. With the birth of a child, being newly married, having just been promoted, buying your first hours, all of these can change your current perspective at a given point in time. Interventions and attitude at any point in time can make all the difference.
10. It is possible to live what you learn
Think of people you know that are genuinely happy. Explore why they are happy. Ask them. They are role models for you. Learn from them. There are many role models across a wide spectrum of our society. What do they say? Likely they try to make the most of each day. Each day is a gift. Be there for others. Develop connecting bonding relationships. You can be an example too. You are going to have bad days and setbacks. Life is hard. Think about how you can react to life and the attitude you bring with these ten ideas. Thank you for sharing James McConchie, PhD.
About the author
Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]