Positive Psychology Studies Suggest Ways to Cheer Up When Depressed

Finding Happiness with Intentional Activities

Use the intentional activities described in this article to find and sustain greater life happiness.

Positive psychology researchers have identified several strategies for finding happiness and sustaining a higher level of overall happiness.

The Secrets of Happiness

The secret of happiness

Though most people credit happiness to life’s circumstances and therefore work to change their circumstances in order to find greater happiness in life, positive psychology research identifies why this approach generally fails.

It turns out that life circumstances actually contribute only about ten-percent of a person’s overall happiness. In addition to its low impact on happiness, there are two more factors limiting the effectiveness of this strategy for increasing happiness.

Generally, people have little control over life circumstances, rendering this approach to finding happiness frustrating and ineffective.

As if its low impact on happiness and lack of control weren’t sufficient reasons to abandon this strategy for finding happiness, it turns out that even successful attempts at changing life’s circumstances result in only temporary bursts of happiness.

Anyone who has finally received a better job or a raise after lengthy efforts will recognize that the burst of happiness at initial success faded over time as you adjusted to the new circumstances.

Read more: Life Quotes

Successful Strategies for Becoming Happier

Rather than working to change life’s circumstances, psychologists recommend focusing on the aspect of happiness that is both under one’s control and yields greater returns when successful. This aspect of happiness is the array of intentional activities you choose.

In her book, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (New York, Penguin Press, 2008), researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. identifies twelve scientifically validated strategies for finding happiness.

Add Finding Happiness to a Personal Growth Plan described two of Lyubomirsky’s happiness strategies and included five suggested activities easy to implement on either a daily basis or as needed to fight feelings of sadness or mild depression. Following are more strategies one can use to find greater life happiness.

Avoid Ruminating and Social Comparison

Social comparison

Researchers know that thinking about an event is nearly identical to actually participating in the event. Athletes and performers utilize this as a means of improving their performances, mentally rehearsing their moves and reactions over and over until they have literally “practiced” dozens of times.

People should avoid dwelling on problems. Dwelling on a problem has the same result as mentally rehearsing for a performance; it’s as if you are experiencing the problem situation over and over again. Any negative feelings resulting from the event are therefore magnified. Avoid dwelling on problem areas of life.

This doesn’t mean to pretend they don’t exist. Acknowledge the problem and accept the associated negative feelings. Then move toward a position of positive reaction to the situation, identifying positive actions available to you, reflective of whom you choose to be in response to challenges of life.

It’s also important to avoid social comparison. One of the more frustrating and fruitless activities one can undertake is to compare oneself to others. Recognize that everyone creates a facade for the world to see, hiding personal and intimate aspects that might be embarrassing or portray one negatively.

A person is likely to fall short in comparison to the facade of others. Instead, set personal growth targets relative to yourself, seeking to become better at utilizing your strengths while minimizing dependence on your weaknesses.

Rather than comparing yourself to others, use others as examples or role models for behaviors and abilities you might consider for yourself.

The Strategy of Kindness

It turns out that performing acts of kindness toward others pays big returns for the person initiating the kindness. Dr. Lyubomirsky’s studies on kindness found that test subject’s happiness increased when they intentionally committed several varied acts of kindness each week.

Looking for some inspiration and suggestions for acts of kindness? Acts of Kindness Ideas suggests thirty acts of kindness you can perform for yourself and others.

Intentional Activities Increase Happiness

Following the strategies described in this and related articles will help you in finding happiness and sustaining a higher level of happiness than before.

Refer to How to Fight Depression, Cheer Up, Find Happiness for details of the secrets of happiness.

Finding Happiness with Intentional Activities



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