In a couple weeks I am giving a talk to some folks about Happiness/Positive Psychology. So recently I have been doing a lot of reading and researching on the subject.
Positive Psychology is a field of study that has blossomed in popularity in the past couple decades. For a while it was looked down upon by the other branches of psychology.. why? I don’t know. For some reason, researchers believed you could study and measure depression but not happiness. But since then, books, movies, news articles, and blog posts 😉 have been filling shelves and the internet with recipes for happiness.
Several things I found really interesting in my happiness research. I will list them below and go into brief detail.
- You can’t buy happiness: If you have seen the documentary “Happy” on Netflix, they talk about some rates of happiness in the slums of Calcutta are on par with those of middle class Americans. What researchers have found is that once household income scores above $75,000, there is little to no impact on happiness. What does that mean? Happiness rates between someone making $200,00 and $75,000 are minimal. This also is tied to my next point…
- Circumstances do not equal happiness: You can have the “right” job, car, house, make enough money, have a perfect spouse or partner, but that still doesn’t mean you will be happy. Because of a phenomenon called the “Hedonic Treadmill”. Simply put, the new iPhone comes out and you can’t wait to get your hands on it. Two months later, you are just as happy with your iPhone X as you were with your iPhone 6. And guess what, now you want the newer iPhone.
- Goal achievement does not equal happiness: There is a fallacy of thinking that once you achieve a certain goal, it will bring all the happiness you ever need. “If I just lost 10 pounds, then I will be happy”, “If I could just get that promotion…” Research shows that when you think about achieving a new goal, you have already incorporated that amount of happiness into your life, so when you achieve the goal, it still feels good, don’t get me wrong, but it may not feel like the answer to all your problems like you thought it would.
- You can change you baseline happiness level: Whatttt?!?!?! Yes! You can! Although our happiness baseline is roughly 50% hereditary, you can still change how happy you feel on the day to day and most of this is done through “Intentional Activity”. Basically, doing things that make you happy and doing less of the things that make you unhappy.
Have a happy day!
“The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin