The hunter of happiness by Harry Popoff - The hunter of happiness. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
5 Reliable Findings From Happiness Research John Grohol compiled this list including lottery winnings create only short-term happiness, the importance of relationships and experiences over money and possessions, and how we can control about 40-50% of our own happiness and briefly discusses some of the criticisms of the positive psychology movement.
6 Secrets You Can Learn From The Happiest People On Earth Eric Barker takes a look back at what we can learn from the happiest people to make our own lives better in this post from his Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog, December 2013.
7 Myths About Happiness According to happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, Nearly all of us buy into what I call the myths of happiness—beliefs that certain adult achievements (marriage, kids, jobs, wealth) will make us forever happy and that certain adult failures or adversities (health problems, divorce, having little money) will make us forever unhappy. Overwhelming research evidence, however, reveals that there is no magic formula for happiness and no sure course toward misery. Rather than bringing lasting happiness or misery in themselves, major life moments and crisis points can be opportunities for renewal, growth, or meaningful change. Yet how you greet these moments really matters. From Psychology Today, March 9, 2013.
8 Ways That Money Can Buy Happiness Eric Barker summarizes the thinking of Daniel Gilbert on what does and does not make us happy in this list of ways that money, contrary to a popular adage, really can buy us happiness, if spent the right way.
Happiness: 10 Fascinating New Psychology Studies Everyone Should Know Reviews 10 recent psychological studies on happiness including findings from genetics, neuroscience, emotions, traits, and more. From PsyBlog, September 11, 2014.
10 Research-Based Steps to a Happier Life What do Christopher Peterson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggest lead to a happier life? Check out these 10 suggestions by Erik Barker on his Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog.
Are Extroverts Really Happier? Arnie Kozak redefines what happiness is for extroverts and introverts for Psychology Today, November 2013.
Are Extroverts Happier Than Introverts? Yes, But . . . Susan Cain reflects on different meanings of happiness. While extroverts may define happiness as something more like exuberance, introverts may define happiness on other ways including flow, gratitude, solitude, melancholy, and meaning. From Psychology Today, December 2011.
Beyond the Purchase From the website We know that the effects of our spending choices often last beyond the place or moment of a purchase. Sometimes those effects are beneficial, leading to enjoyment, happy memories, or feelings of belongingness. At other times those effects may be financially or emotionally detrimental. We developed Beyond The Purchase to explore happiness and the quality of life, and the outcomes of different purchasing and money-management choices, as well as the motivations behind them. Psychologist Ryan Howell and colleagues created this site to help people make more informed choices. The site features personality tests, research findings, and a special section for incorporating their ideas into your classroom including a demonstration and slides on the Big Five personality traits and teaching central tendency using the Big Five. Follow the BtP in your classroom link.
Biological Evidence of Positive and Negative People in the World From the page: The ability to stay positive when times get tough -- and, conversely, of being negative -- may be hardwired in the brain, finds new research. From Science Daily, April 2, 2014.
Buy Experiences, Not Things Research by Amit Kumar, Matthew Killingsworth and Tom Gilovich published in the journal Psychological Science and summarized here for The Atlantic (2014) suggests that happiness comes from acquiring positive experiences, not material goods. In particular, both the anticipation of a positive experience and the reflecting back on a past experience makes people happier than anticipation of or the reflecting back on, a material good. From The Atlantic, October 7, 2014.
Can Money Buy Happiness? 5 Smart Ways to Spend It According to Michael Norton and Elizabeth Dunn it can if you know how to spend it. Check out these 5 suggestions from Erik Barker on his Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog.
Cultivating Happiness Often Misunderstood From the page: The concept of maximizing happiness has been explored by researchers, who have found that pursuing concrete 'giving' goals rather than abstract ones leads to greater satisfaction. One path to happiness is through concrete, specific goals of benevolence -- like making someone smile or increasing recycling -- instead of following similar but more abstract goals -- like making someone happy or saving the environment. From Science Daily, April 15, 2014.
Do You Know What Determines Your Happiness? Eric Karpinski, muses on the impact of genetics, external circumstances, and our own actions and thoughts on our happiness. Posted August 11, 2011.
Happiness: The Pursuit of Happiness With the philosophy that happiness is understandable, obtainable, and teachable this website presents a history of the philosophy of happiness and finding in the science of happiness along with teaching resources including syllabi, mini-lessons and PowerPoint presentations on the science and philosophy of happiness. They also welcome submissions.
Happiness and the Brain The Dana Alliance, a nonprofit organization of brain research scientists, posts this overview of the neuroscience of happiness Hardwired for Happiness by Silvia Helena Cardoso.
Happiness: Achieving Fame, Wealth and Beauty are Psychological Dean Ends. Science Daily, from May 19, 2009, summarizes research by Christopher Niemiec, Rich Ryan, and Ed Deci at the University of Rochester: If you think having loads of money, fetching looks, or the admiration of many will improve your life — think again. A new study by three University of Rochester researchers demonstrates that progress on these fronts can actually make a person less happy.
Happiness Ain't All It's Cracked Up To Be Summarizes research by Joe Forgas which suggests thatPeople in a positive mood generally rely more on their own thoughts and preferences, and pay less attention to the outside world and social norms . . . happiness's negative effects all stem from a cheery mood's tendency to lull you into feeling secure. This makes you look inwards and behave both more selfishly and more carelessly. Published online in New Scientist, February 26, 2010.
Happiness is Experience Not Stuff If you're trying to buy happiness, you'd be better off putting your money toward a tropical island get-away than a new computer, a new study suggests. The results show that people's satisfaction with their life-experience purchases — anything from seeing a movie to going on a vacation — tends to start out high and go up over time. On the other hand, although they might be initially happy with that shiny new iPhone or the latest in fashion, their satisfaction with these items wanes with time according to 8 separate studies by Thomas Gilovich and Travis J. Carter, published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and summarized in this article from Live Science, March 5, 2010 and also here from Science Daily, March 4, 2010.
The Happiness Formula The BBC aired a series of specials on happiness on July 4, 2008. Read the background of this series including The Science of Happiness, Britain's Happiness in Decline, The Politics of Happiness, take the Happiness Test (writeen for the BBC by Ed Diener) and read about Happy Tips from other people. The site also includes video clips on What is Happiness? (2:26 minutes), The Power of Happiness (10:40 minutes), What Really Motivates Us? (2:06 minutes), Bhutan's Happiness Formula (8:39 minutes), The Politics of Happiness (10:27 minutes), and Think Yourself Happy (3:13 minutes).
Happiness Has A Dark Side It seems like everyone wants to be happier and the pursuit of happiness is one of the foundations of American life. But even happiness can have a dark side […] people who strive for happiness may end up worse off than when they started according to research by June Gruber, Iris Mauss and Maya Tamir published this month in Perspectives on Psychological Science and summarized here in Science Daily, May 17, 2011.
Happiness Model Could Help People Go from Good to Great The sayings "variety is the spice of life" and "happiness isn't getting what you want, but wanting what you get" seem to have a psychological basis, according to research by Kennon Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and summarized here in ScienceDaily, May 7, 2012.
Happiness: Revenge of the Introvert Provides a good overview of what it's like to be an introvert in a fast-paced individualistic culture where talking, networking, and self-promotion is expected. Life is just different for introverts, and this essay explains some of the differences between introverts and extroverts, especially when it comes to the pursuit of happiness. Includes a list of what not to say to an introvert. Written by staff writer Laurie Helgoe, published on September 01, 2010.
Happiness Depends On Who You Know and Your Goals, Study of College Students Suggests Introverted and extroverted college students use different strategies to be happy according to research by Bernardo Carducci and colleagues and summarized in ScienceDaily, August 30, 2011.
Hourly Employees Happier Than Salaried People paid by the hour exhibit a stronger relationship between income and happiness, according to a study published in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB), summarized in this article from Medical News Today, December 14, 2009.
How Our View of What Makes Us Happy Has Changed in 80 Years Our view of what makes us happy has changed markedly since 1938. That is the conclusion of the psychologist who has recreated a famous study of happiness conducted in Bolton in 1938, summarized here in ScienceDaily, May 4, 2015.
Is Life’s Happiness Curve Really U-Shaped Evidence suggests that happiness is likely to increase as we age according to research summarized here in The Guardian, June 24, 2015.
Mathematical Equation to Predict Happiness: Doesn't Depend on How Well Things Go, But on Whether Things are Better Than Expected The happiness of over 18,000 people worldwide has been predicted by an equation developed by researchers at [University College, London], with results showing that moment-to-moment happiness reflects not just how well things are going, but whether things are going better. From ScienceDaily, August 4, 2014.
Money and Happiness: Three Reasons Why Money Brings Satisfaction But Not Happiness. Jeremy Dean, in his PsyBlog, reviews research on money and happiness to answer the question If money doesn't bring happiness, then why do people behave as though it does?
Suggestions for a Happy Life by David G. Myers.
The Meaningful Life is a Road Worth Traveling A Stanford research project explored the key differences between lives of happiness and meaningfulness. While the two are similar, dramatic differences exist – and one should not underestimate the power of meaningfulness. "The quest for meaning is a key part of what makes us human," Jennifer Aaker and her colleagues concluded. From the Stanford News, January 1, 2014.
Outgoing Behavior Makes for Happier Humans: Across Cultures, Extroverts Have More Fun From the page: ''Happy is as happy does, apparently -- for human beings all over the world. Not only does acting extroverted lead to more positive feelings across several cultures, but people also report more upbeat behavior when they feel free to be themselves.’’ From ‘’Science Daily’’, April 15, 2014.
There's More to Life Than Being Happy According to Viktor Frankl, It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness, and yet Americans, and American psychology is obsessed with happiness. Meaningfulness and happiness are not the same thing, and this article draws on new work by Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Vohs, Jennifer Aaker & Emily Garbinsky (2013) to understand the difference. From The Atlantic, January 9, 2013. Their forthcoming paper in the Journal of Positive Psychology is available here: http://tinyurl.com/b8mbayk (opens in PDF format).
This Obvious Happiness Strategy Really Does Work, Study Finds According to research by Catalino et al. from the journal Emotion, explicitly trying to feel happier as well as paying too much attention to how happy you feel have both been linked to feeling worse. The secret to happiness appears to be “prioritizing positivity”. From PsyBlog, July 3, 2015.
The Weirdest Way People Communicate Their Happiness Why is happiness so infectious? A new study published in the journal Psychological Science finds that people communicate their happiness to others through perspiration. Read about the study here in PsyBlog, April 17, 2015.
What Makes Us Happy? Joshua Wolf Shenk writes: Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant. From The Atlantic Magazine, June 2009.
World Happiness Report 2015 Ranks Happiest Countries The report, which includes analyses from experts in economics, neuroscience, and statistics outlines the happiest countries, changes in happiness from last year, and how measurements of subjective well-being can be used to assess national progress. Results are broken out by country, gender, age, and region.Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.
Yes, Money Does Buy Happiness: 6 Lessons from the Newest Research on Income and Well-Being A summary of 6 observations from the paper The New Stylized Facts about Income and Subjective Well-Being by Daniel W. Sacks, Betsey Stevenson, and Justin Wolfers. From The Atlantic, January 10, 2013.
Assignments, Exercises, and Activities
Happiness Exercise The October issue of the Thiagi Gameletter (Seriously fun activities for trainers, facilitators, performance consultants, and managers, see their website here) describes an activity (which they call a jolt) to demonstrate how our current emotions are influenced by our thoughts about the past.
Want to Be Happier Right Now? The Think Positive! Experiment Reflecting on the 3 best events over the course of a week, as opposed to the three worst, colors our overall judgement of how the week was.
Why? A Happiness Activity The September (2008) issue of the Thiagi Gameletter (Seriously fun activities for trainers, facilitators, performance consultants, and managers, see http://www.thiagi.com/) describes a series of Happiness Activities as part of their Tool Kit to demonstrate how most of our current goals when reduced to their most fundamental form -- by repeatedly asking the question Why? have happiness at its core.
Current Researchers and Research Team Pages
Happiness bibliography and online essays of the work of David G. Myers on happiness.
Examples and Illustrations
Lectures and Lecture Notes
Positive Psychology Yale University now has many courses avaible in video, audio, and written form as part of their Open Yale program. Includes reading assignments and class notes. Listen to this lecture on happiness from Paul Bloom's Introduction to Psychology course from the Spring of 2007. "Professor Bloom ends with a review of one of the most interesting research topics in "positive psychology," happiness. What makes us happy? How does happiness vary across person and culture? What is happiness for? Students will hear how the most recent research in psychology attempts to answer these questions and learn how people are surprisingly bad at predicting what will make them happiest."
Tests, Measures, and Scales
Authentic Happiness This website, developed by Martin Seligman as a companion site to his book by this title, provides a chance for people to develop insights into yourself and the world around you through these scientifically tested questionnaires, surveys, and scales. The site provides registrants with the chance to take numerous personality tests to understand authentic happiness in their own lives. Registration is free, and extensive feedback is provided for various tests including meaning in life, optimism, personal strengths, and many others.
Buddha’s Brain: The Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, & Wisdom Shrink Rap Radio: A Psychology talk and Interview Show (Podcast; Show #249, Oct 16, 2010). In this episode, Dr. Dave talks with neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, who works at the intersection on the brain, positive psychology and meditation. Hanson believes that when the brain changes the mind changes; when the mind changes the brain changes; and you can use your mind skillfully to change your brain and your mind for the better (1 hour, 12 minutes, 47 seconds).
Fun: The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun Get focused, be creative, use your wisdom, take action and in the end have more fun in your life. This multi-media presentation is also available in a French and Spanish version.
Daniel Gilbert: Synthetic Happiness From the website: Dan Gilbert is a psychology professor at Harvard, and author of Stumbling on Happiness. In this memorable talk, filmed at TED2004, he demonstrates just how poor we humans are at predicting (or understanding) what will make us happy. (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 22:02).
Dan Gilbert Asks, Why are We Happy? Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our 'psychological immune system' lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned in this TED talk filmed February 2004. Subtitles are available in 32 different languages. Runs 21 minutes and 20 seconds.
Dan Gilbert On Our Mistaken Expectations Dan Gilbert presents research and data from his exploration of happiness -- sharing some surprising tests and experiments that you can also try on yourself in this TED talk filmed July 2005. Subtitles are available in 25 different languages. Runs 33 minutes and 35 seconds.
Dan Gilbert: Stumbling on Happiness Harvard Psychologist and author of the best-selling Stumbling on Happiness Daniel Gilbert discusses his book and how humans find -- and don't find -- happiness in this talk from the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival. Runs 51 minutes and 4 seconds.
Happiness: The Happiest Place on Earth by Ed Diener From the Baylor Academics Channel on YouTube: The world authority on happiness and well-being research, Dr. Ed Diener, of the University of Illinois discusses the happiest and unhappiest places on earth according to the latest research in a conversation with Professor Michael B. Frisch of Baylor University, November 05, 2010 (runs 14 minutes and 43 seconds)
Happiness: What You Need To Be Happy by Professor Ed Diener From the Baylor Academics Channel on YouTube: The world authority on happiness and well-being research, Dr. Ed Diener, of the University of Illinois discusses what you need to be happy according to the latest research in a conversation with Professor Michael B. Frisch of Baylor University, November 22, 2010 (runs 11 minutes, 53 seconds).
The Happiness Hypothesis Shrink Rap Radio: A Psychology talk and Interview Show (Podcast; Show #142, March 14, 2008). In this episode, Dr. Dave talks with Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., a social and cultural psychologist and author of the 2006 book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.
How Much Does Happiness Cost in Your State? According to ABC News In a popular study by psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton, it was determined that the magic income is $75,000 a year. According to the study, as people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness (or Emotional Well-Being) rises. They put together a map estimating how much it takes in each state to reach this idea level of income. In some states like Utah and Mississippi, it takes less, while in others, New York, Connecticut, and Hawaii, it takes much more. July 18, 2014.
The How of Happiness What makes people happy? Is happiness a good thing? How can we make people happier still? Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, University of California, Riverside, draws on her own research to offer listeners a guide to increasing happiness in their lives for both the short term and the long term. From a talk given at Clarmont College, March 4, 2008. (available in multiple formats for video streaming).
The Happiness Formula The BBC aired a series of specials on happiness on July 4, 2008. Read the background of this series including The Science of Happiness, Britain's Happiness in Decline, The Politics of Happiness, take the Happiness Test (writeen for the BBC by Ed Diener) and read about Happy Tips from other people. The site also includes video clips on What is happiness? (2:26 minutes), The power of happiness (10:40 minutes), What really motivates us? (2:06 minutes), Bhutan's happiness formula (8:39 minutes), The politics of happiness (10:27 minutes), and Think yourself happy (3:13 minutes).
Scientists Discover One of the Greatest Contributing Factors to Happiness --- You'll Thank Me Later What happens when people write a gratitude letter to a special person in their lives and then call that person and read their letter out lout to them? The result is happiness, according to psychological research demonstrated by this feel-good video. Runs 7 minutes 14 seconds.
Study Reveals “Unhappiest” Cities in the U.S. New research identifies the unhappiest cities in the U.S., but finds that some young people are still willing to relocate to them for a good job opportunity or lower housing prices. The analysis suggests people may be deciding to trade happiness for other gains. From ScienceDaily, July 22, 2014.
TED Radio Hour: The Pursuit of Happiness NPR and TED talks created this compilation of TED talks on a single topic. For this one, three speakers offer some big ideas for achieving happiness: Barry Schwartz on ''Does having options make us happier? (11:58); Kathyrn Schultz on "Why should we embrace regret? (17:54); and Malcolm Gladwell on "What does spaghetti sauce have to do with happiness? (18:44).
This Emotional Life From the website: The Emmy Award-winning team of Vulcan Productions and the producers of NOVA have created a three-part series that explores improving our social relationships, learning to cope with depression and anxiety, and becoming more positive, resilient individuals. Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness, Professor Daniel Gilbert, talks with experts about the latest science on what makes us tick and how we can find support for the emotional issues we all face. Each episode weaves together the compelling personal stories of ordinary people and the latest scientific research along with revealing comments from celebrities like Chevy Chase, Larry David, Alanis Morissette, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Richard Gere. The first episode, Family, Friends & Lovers, looks at the importance of relationships and why they are central to our emotional well-being (includes an excellent overview of Attachment theory). In the second episode, Facing Our Fears, we look at emotions that are commonly regarded as obstacles to happiness — such as anger, fear, anxiety, and despair (includes a discussion of Anger, Depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Stress and Anxiety). The last episode, Rethinking Happiness, explores happiness. It is so critical to our well-being, and, yet, it remains such an elusive goal for many of us (includes Creativity and Flow, Forgiveness, Happiness, Humor, Meditation, Resilience). See more about the people and stories featured on the series, view selected video clips, learn more about the topics mentioned, find information about resources and support organizations, and purchase a DVD.