Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at University of California, Riverside and her graduate student, Kristin Layous, examined how simple positive activities can increase a person’s happiness and well-being. The results, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science
While there have been studies published about the notion that purposefully engaging in positive activities (such as intentionally remembering to be grateful, or optimistic, or mindful) can lead to being happier, the UC Riverside team set out to identify the “how, what, when, and why of happiness-increasing strategies.” They cited several studies showing that people who are happier enjoy better stability in relationships, better health, even higher incomes. Rightly so, the researchers argue that such findings “would be disheartening if happiness could not be achieved intentionally.”
Lyubomirsky and Layous define positive activities as “simple, intentional, and regular practices meant to mimic the myriad healthy thoughts and behaviors associated with naturally happy people.” This is the basis for their “positive-activity model” that takes into consideration the following:
Features of positive activities, including:
- · Dosage – just like a drug, it considers the frequency and timing of positive activities
- · Variety – different kinds of positive activities
- · Social support – reinforcement for undertaking positive activities
- · Triggers – some positive activities spark others
Features of the person, including:
- · Motivation to undertake positive activities
- · Belief positive activities will pay off
- · Initial state when deciding to undertake positive activity routine (to what extent depressed?)
- · Personality differences such as introvert or extrovert?
- · Social support for pursuit of happiness
- · Demographics, older/younger, Westerners/Easterners, socioeconomic status?
Taking into account both activity features and person features, the researchers honed in on “person-activity fit”—certain activities are better for certain people. Activities are positive if they increase positive emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and satisfy needs. Viola… increased happiness!
Here are some gems from the study:
-People who perform various acts of kindness weekly experienced greater increases in well-being than people who perform the same kind acts each week.
-To avoid adaptation, happiness seekers should vary their positive practices (which activities to perform, how many, how often, and with whom).
-When people are free to choose their happiness increasing activities, they do not view the activities as cumbersome and gladly perform them for longer and more often.
-Engaging in positive activities is more successful when the doers of positive activities have social support.
-Positive activities can be relatively self-oriented (e.g., practicing optimism) or other-oriented (e.g., expressing gratitude). Collectivists might benefit more from other-oriented positive activities and individualists from self-oriented activities.
-Certain positive activities are social-behavioral in nature (e.g., being kind), whereas others are reflective cognitive (e.g., savoring happy times), potentially benefitting particularly lonely and frazzled individuals, respectively.
-Positive activities differ in their time orientation… Older adults might benefit more from reflecting on their legacies, whereas youths might benefit more from visualizing bright futures.
There is much more to the research than is summarized here. For those of you who are interested in learning more about this science of happiness, check out the original publication. Sonja Lyubomirsky and Kristin Layous. How Do Simple Positive Activities Increase Well-Being? Current Directions in Psychological Science 22(1) 57–62, 2013. You might just find one or two ways to expand your conscious pursuit of happiness!
A Quick Note from Our Founder
Have you been curious about losing weight eating Bacon and Butter? You're not alone!
Going "Keto" has helped so many of my friends drop weight and keep it off.
And it's the perfect time to try it because right now you can get a free copy of a brand new cookbook called The Bacon and Butter Cookbook
This cookbook is jam-packed with 148 delicious ketogenic recipes that will help you burn fat like crazy. Even stubborn belly and thigh fat won't stand a chance because your body will have NO CHOICE but to burn that fat for fuel!
If you've struggled to get rid of stubborn fat, you owe it to yourself to test-drive the keto diet and see how effective it really is. It'll be easy once you have this free cookbook...
HURRY, this FREE offer won't last long!