Positive psychology is the study of what makes people happy. It is not about directly changing your emotions (which is very hard to do!), but rather about choosing a lifestyle and environment which leads to greater well-being.
Actually, trying to be happy can bring great frustration, especially if you are in a mood episode. That is why this section is intended for those who are out of an episode and looking to create a better life.
Most people know what makes them happy in the short term, but it is harder to predict what will help further down the road. That’s where this kind of research can be a useful guide.
The following three activities were found to increase long-term happiness:
1) Blessings Journal: Each day
write down three things that went well and why.
Activities which draw on your strengths can lead to greater happiness. The web site authentic happiness has a strengths-test; examples include:
Optimism, humor, gratitude, flexible thinking, acceptance, spirituality, charity or altruism, the ability to “step outside yourself,” supportive friends, good role models, and physical exercise.
More Happy Activity
Pursuits with these qualities creates greater happiness:
1) Those which engage you
fully or are enjoyable
Surprisingly, the following do not lead to significant increases in long-term happiness:
1) Wealth (beyond $30,000/year)
Factors in Unhappiness
Three of the biggest risks for unhappiness are:
1) Loss of a job
—Updated 3/17/11 by Chris Aiken, MD