There are many ways to improve our happiness. It seems that our overall disposition and mood is set by our genetics. With ADHD genes we feel our emotions more profoundly and have a greater risk of depression and anxiety. The standard messages about achieving happiness that are sold to us every day by the media and advertising. Messages like earn more money, own this gadget, move to that place, have that lifestyle, win the lottery:
media messages that equate happiness with wealth are just scientifically, statistically wrong.
Before the science had woken up, prior to having convincing evidence to the contrary, it was possible to peddle a message that “earn more, buy more = more happiness” but positive psychology has clearly, demonstrably, scientifically shown this not to be the case.
It is by focussing on friendship, gratitude and our values – we improve our day to day experience of life
So family and friends are crucial, with a bigger effect on happiness than salary. Finding peace through meditation and reflection helps change our autonomic nervous system stress response. Having a meaning or purpose in life has a profound influence. Belief in anything from religion to a philosophy with strong values contributes to a sense of direction. Having realistic goals that are enjoyable to work, helps boost happiness too.
Positive psychology results
Professor Martin Seligman researched a significant number of exercises that were said to increase happiness. 500 volunteers took a battery of tests, a simple week-long web exercise and then were tested on their well-being for the next six months.
From their research the most affective exercise were the three below, all worked exceptionally well, producing lasting reductions in depression and lasting increases in happiness:
The field of “positive psychology” is growing with more university-led research, many books have appeared and indeed many coaches and therapists integrating the insights into their and demonstrating as effective results as medication or therapy for the depressed. But even if you feel fine, practising gratitude and
Three things to be grateful for
Each night write down three things that went well today, for which you feel blessed and grateful and why they happened specifically to you. When run on severely depressed people 92% became happier with symptoms relieved by 50% in 15 days, comparing favourably with anti-depressants and psychotherapy.
Discover your Signature strengths
The VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire measures 24 signature strengths, which are loosely organised under six virtues: wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. These are strengths that you use, where you are fully engaged and may not notice time passing but feel rewarded when you stop.
The Gratitude Visit
Write a gratitude testimonial to connect with someone who has been kind to you that you have not properly thanked. Reflect on the benefits you received from them and write a letter expressing your gratitude and arrange to deliver the letter personally. Spend some time with them talking about the letter and your gratitude.