Happiness Getting Scientific?

Typically we leave the science-y topics to the scientists…but where exactly does the topic of happiness lie in the spectrum? Usually people go to a psychologist to get rid of their depression or work through problems…but what if going to a therapist was a health promoting activity like eating a clean diet or exercising on a regular basis, or getting adjusted regularly was? I’m not going to lie…this area of health is my absolute favorite…so obviously I think emotional wellness needs to be done differently…and I think it’s starting to come around!

Until recently psychology has mainly been working within a disease model: a strong emphasis has been placed on discovering deficits in human behavior and finding ways to repair this damage. Psychologists hardly focused on doing studies acquiring knowledge about healthy functioning and building strengths. In other words: they have focused solely on taking away something negative (the disfunctioning)  instead of adding something positive (increasing mental and behavioral health). The result: psychologists know little about healthy and happy functioning. The situation has been changing now since the rise of positive psychology a few years ago. What is Positive Psychology? It is a new movement in psychology, originated by Martin Seligman and a few other prominent psychologists, among them Mahili Csikszentmihhalyi (author of ‘Flow’). It aims to be a psychological science about the best things in life. Main topics of study are: positive emotions, positive traits, and positive institutions. This book, Authentic Happiness, is the first book on positive psychology.

Funny. Traditional psychology sounds a lot like the traditional medical model…  hmm. This is such a positive step towards health, now we just need to get the message out.

This book mainly deals with the phenomenon of happiness. According to Seligman your enduring level of happiness results from three factors: your ‘set range’ (the basic biologically determined range within which your happiness normally will be), the ‘circumstances of your life’ (sounds conditions like being married and living in a democratic society somehow seem to contribute to happiness), and your ‘voluntary control’ (the things you can do to get your happiness to the upper part of your set range). OK, but how to get this done? Before answering this question Seligman explains that happiness/positive emotions can refer to three domains: the past (satisfaction, contentment, fulfilment, pride and serenity),  the present (joy, ecstasy, calm, zest, ebullience, pleasure and flow), and the future (optimism, faith, hope and trust). Then the author comes up with suggestions to improve your happiness:

How to Improve Your Happiness

1) To be happier about your past you need to a) let go of the false belief that your past negative experiences determine your present and future, b) increase your gratitude about the good things in your past, and c) learn how to forgive past wrongs.

2) To be happier in your present, you need to distinguish between pleasures and gratifications. Pleasures are delights that have clear sensory and strong emotional components that require little, if any, thinking. Gratifications are flow experiences. They are activities we very much like doing but that are not necessarily accompanied by any raw feelings at all. The gratifications last longer than the pleasures and they are underpinned by our strengths and virtues. The key to happiness in past and future lies in enhancing gratifications.

3) To be happier about your future, you need to change your explanatory style in order to become more optimistic and hopeful .

Want to see what the experts have to say about your happiness level? Take the ‘Authentic Happiness’ test HERE and others like it! I will, without a doubt, be picking up this book (Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman)…as a matter of fact, I already put it on hold at the library 🙂

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Yesterdays workout:

3 rounds for time

10 knees to elbows

gym-length-and-back overhead lunges with 20 pound ball for women (men, 40)

10 burpee box-jumps (women 12″ box, men 18″ box)

I decided to go with the “mens” height for the burpee boxjumps…booo yeah! 🙂

My time?

10:06

First one done! Although, in Nick’s defense, he needed to wait for a box at one point….but so did I!! In Casey’s defense, he was jumping up on a 3 foot box…crazy. I would say, however, that all around, I smoked that workout for me 🙂

Have a great night…tomorrow I have a recipe for a sweet little treat for you (paleo ice cream cookies :-p)

Love,

Jen

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