What Causes Happiness?

Positive psychology is the study of happiness. Psychology traditionally focused on dysfunction . . . Positive psychology, by contrast, is a relatively new field that examines how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled.—Psychology Today

Positive psychology got its start in the 1990s with the work of Dr. Martin Seligman. Vast amounts of time and money have since gone into tracking happiness to and from its lair. Some of the findings confirm ancient wisdom; others may surprise you:

GENETICS has a lot to do with the factory settings on our happiness dial.

CHOICES play a larger role in happiness than external factors.

CIRCUMSTANCES have little influence on lasting happiness.

The mind of every man, in a longer or shorter time, returns to its natural and usual state of tranquility. In prosperity, after a certain time, it falls back to that state; in adversity, after a certain time, it rises up to it.—Adam Smith

WEALTH has almost no effect on happiness after basic necessities are met. However, happy people get richer faster because of their appeal to others and their positive attitude.

Generally speaking, OLDER people are happier than the young and UNATTRACTIVE people are happier than the attractive.

A GOOD MARRIAGE is one of the strongest and most consistent factors associated with happiness. Happy people marry sooner and stay married longer. Unhappily married people are the least happy people of all.

RELIGIOUS people are happier than the nonreligious. Being part of a community and feeling connected to something beyond the self are major contributors to happiness.

The condition that trumps all others when it comes to happiness is the number and strength of a person’s RELATIONSHIPS.  Not only that,

Having strong social relationships strengthens the immune system,
extends life (more than does quitting smoking),
speeds recovery from surgery,
and reduces the risk of depression and anxiety disorders.
Jonathan Haidt


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