Happiness – Can Science Help us to be Happier?

Believe it or not there are Universities around the world studying the Science of Happiness. Now that is a pretty amazing job right there.  So what have they discovered about happiness that translates into making us happier?

One of the easiest ways science (and ancient thinking for that matter) helps us to see happiness is by showing different TYPES of happiness.

One you will have heard of – Hedonism, and one that you may not have heard of – Eudaimonia.

Hedonistic Happiness

Hedonism is all about maximising pleasure, minimising pain. But of course not all “pleasures” lead to wellbeing, and some can be very destructive – for instance when they become an addiction.

Whilst we all enjoy a delicious meal, for instance, or treating ourselves now and then, we can become caught up in an hedonistic happiness trap.

We start thinking that “IF” ………….  “THEN I will be happy”.   When I lose weight/get those shoes/buy a new car/get a different job etc etc etc, —THEN I will be happy.  But we can quickly become accustomed to the newest thing, and it no longer has any appeal, so we look for the NEXT shiny thing to lust after.

Eudaimonic Happiness

On the other hand, this type of happiness is about finding lasting contentment.  It is characterised by 3 things

  1. Meaningful activities
  2. Positive relationships
  3. Personal and spiritual growth

Leading to feeling

  • Purposeful
  • Valued

And that you are

  • Flourishing
  • Content.

It isn’t rocket science, but we need to focus on this Eudaimonic happiness if we want to find real lasting contentment.  Prioritising our relationships, enjoying activities that we are good at and bring us pleasure, and retaining curiosity and wonder in the world.

A Simple Way to  Boost Happiness  

You simply have to write down 3 things every night that have been good that day. That. Is. It.

BUT YOU have to do, and it is in the “doing” that the magic happens. Scanning the day for good things, is in itself a brilliant thing to do, but then to capture the good things and write them down is even better, because even as we write we are savouring them, remembering them as we write, because it takes us time to write.  They are also there for posterity and we can reread them when perhaps we are feeling challenged by the world. The effort of bringing 3 things to our attention is even more valuable when we are going through tough times. We need this activity even more then.

Perhaps you are thinking about what 3 good things you will write down – maybe its 7pm and you only have a couple of things. So you do something deliberately to write down later as your 3rd good thing. Maybe you call a friend or family member. Maybe you put on a favourite piece of music, funny film or read a book.  This is great – it is changing our behaviour for the better, it is making us more pro-social.

Whilst there are Apps that you can use for this activity I do prefer writing things down – the pathway and effort required are also beneficial – and it is in our own writing, so we believe it when we go back and re read several months – even years – later.

It also prevents us from too much black and white thinking as we can include evidence that sometimes, not often, we drive easily through that usually tricky junction, or get a seat on the crowded train etc. SO it stops us saying “I never get…….”  even stops us saying “Good things NEVER happen to me”

Because now you have the evidence that they do – regularly – 3 times every day.

Try it out for yourself – get yourself a notebook, and do this simple activity every day if you want to discover the secret to lasting happiness.  The science is right!

*********************************************************************************************************************************

Our talks on Happiness, Wellbeing, Resilience, Stress Management and Fatigue Management among other subjects are available as workshops, last from an hour to a full day – and you can put them together to suit your needs. We deliver to businesses and community groups spreading the messages of happiness and hope. See our website page here

This is an extract from our talk delivered to Ethical Reading in May 2019

Contact us for more information – [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *