The psychology of happiness is now a recognised science and, all around the world, there are hundreds of academics looking into this most important of subject areas. When people are asked what they want to achieve in life or what they would wish for their children, the answer is often “just to be happy”. It seems such a simple thing, yet there are still so many apparently unhappy people. Where are they all going wrong?
Too often, it seems people tie the achievement of happiness to one particular thing they want in their life: If I could just meet the right person; if only I had a better job; if we just moved to a nicer area… There is no doubt that life partners, jobs and where we live are significant aspects of our lives, each of which has the potential to make a huge difference to our sense of inner well-being. Unfortunately, though, the evidence suggests that once we have attained whatever elusive goal we have set our sights on, the difference it makes is only temporary. Maybe we need to look into other aspects of our lives.
This is where the studies of happiness scientists come in. Between them they have amassed years of research consulting hundreds of thousands of people in experiments and investigations into how to improve personal happiness. One such scientist is Dr David Niven, author of the best-selling The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People. Each of his 100 suggestions is based on a piece of clinical research outlined at the end of each short chapter.
To give just one example, research in 1998 by Williams, Haber, Weaver and Freeman established the idea that people who go out of their way to help others find their own life satisfaction improves 24 per cent. It makes sense if you think about it: when you know that you’ve helped someone, it DOES make you feel good about yourself. It raises your self-esteem because you feel that in some small way you’re a good person. Even holding the door open for someone and being on the receiving end of a stranger’s smile and “thank you” has a momentary positive effect on your outlook. With many moments like these, the effect can be cumulative and it will make a definitely constructive contribution towards your personal happiness.
Find 20 more simple ways to be happy here: