Want to increase your happiness? Are there any strategies that have been shown to work--not just anecdotally, but scientifically?
Yes, and I'm finding them in an excellent book, :59 seconds, written by Richard Wiseman. It's named that because at the end of each chapter he gives you tips for things you can accomplish in about a minute.
First, what doesn't work:
- Attempting to think yourself happy by suppressing negative thoughts (it tends to make you think about them even more);
- Winning the lottery (long-term, people return to about the same level as they had before they won);
- Buying things (they give us a brief boost but then the thing loses its novelty and we go back to our earlier level--although I think there's an exception to this that I'll address in a future post);
- If you've had a traumatic or extremely stressful experience, talking about it to a sympathetic but untrained person.
Your happiness level is determined by genetics (50%) and your general circumstances (10%). That leaves 40% we can influence because it comes from our behaviour, our thoughts, and our relationships.
In the next post, we'll look at the first of several almost-instant ways to boost your happiness.