Happiness model developed by MU researcher could help people go from good to great
The sayings "variety is the spice of life" and "happiness isn't getting what you want, but wanting what you get" seem to have a psychological basis, according to a new study by an MU psychologist who identified two keys to becoming happier and staying that way.
"Although the Declaration of Independence upholds the right to pursue happiness, that search can be a never-ending quest," said Kennon Sheldon, professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. "Previous research shows that an individual's happiness can increase after major life changes, such as starting a new romantic relationship, but over time happiness tends to return to a previous level. Through our research, we developed a model to help people maintain higher levels of happiness derived from beneficial changes. The model consists of two major components: the need to keep having new and positive life-changing experiences and the need to keep appreciating what you already have and not want more too soon."
In the recent study, Sheldon, along with co-author Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside, first surveyed 481 people about their happiness. Six weeks later participants identified a recent positive change in their lives that had made them happier. Six weeks after that, the psychologists evaluated whether the original happiness boost had lasted. For some it had, but for most it had not. The psychologists then tested and confirmed their model for predicting whose boost had lasted.
"The majority got used to the change that had made them happy in the first place," Sheldon said. "They stopped being happy because they kept wanting more and raising their standards, or because they stopped having fresh positive experiences of the change, for example they stopped doing fun things with their new boyfriend and started wishing he was better looking. A few were able to appreciate what they had and to keep having new experiences. In the long term, those people tended to maintain their boost, rather than falling back where they started."
Due to genetics and other factors, individuals have a certain "set-point" of happiness they normally feel. Some people tend to be bubbly, while others are more somber, though individuals vary in a range around their set-point. Sheldon's research suggests how people can train themselves to stay at the top of their possible range of happiness.
"A therapist can help a person get from miserable to OK; our study shows how people can take themselves from good to great," Sheldon said.
Sheldon also noted that the best life changes don't necessarily equate to new purchases. Although a shiny new possession can boost happiness, that purchase has to be experienced anew every day and appreciated for what it brings to have any lasting effect on happiness.
"The problem with many purchases is that they tend to just sit there," said Sheldon. "They don't keep on providing varied positive experiences. Also, relying on material purchases to make us happy can lead to a faster rise in aspirations, like an addiction. Hence, many purchases tend to be only quick fixes. Our model suggests ways to reduce the 'let down' from those purchases. For example, if you renovate your house, enjoy it and have many happy experiences in the new environment, but don't compare your new decor to the Joneses'."
More information: The study "The Challenge of Staying Happier: Testing the Hedonic Adaptation Prevention (HAP) Model" is currently in press in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Journal reference: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Provided by University of Missouri-Columbia
- Buying experiences, not possessions, leads to greater happiness Feb 08, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Happiness has a dark side May 16, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Studies Reveal People Become More Autonomous, Happier with Age Aug 22, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Do experiences or material goods make us happier? Feb 23, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- For happiness, remember the good times, forget the regrets Jun 22, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
(HealthDay)—We've all seen them: the surfers who race to the beach when a hurricane hits, the guy who decides to ride out the storm in his overmatched boat, the tornado chasers who fearlessly steer their ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 24, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 24, 2013 | 4 / 5 (4) | 4 |
Ernie Pyle – an iconic war correspondent in World War II – reportedly said "There are no atheists in foxholes." A new joint study between two brothers at Cornell and Virginia Wesleyan found that only ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 24, 2013 | 2.5 / 5 (4) | 2
(Medical Xpress)—Research by Stanford scholar Emma Seppala at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education found that post-traumatic stress disorder decreased in veterans who participated ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 24, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 1
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with diabetes who are depressed are much more likely to develop episodes of dangerously low blood sugars, or hypoglycemia, than are those who are not depressed, a new study has ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 24, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Animals make great companions for senior citizens, but elderly people who always drive with a pet in the car are far more likely to crash than those who never drive with a pet, researchers have ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half, according to the results of a multicentre randomised double blind trial presented today at Heart Failure 2013 congress. It is the first drug to improve heart failure mortality ...
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 5
Heart failure accelerates the aging process and brings on early andropausal syndrome (AS), according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. AS, also referred to as male 'menopause', was four times ...
9 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
Mortality and length of stay are highest in heart failure patients admitted in January, on Friday, and overnight, according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. The analysis of nearly 1 million ...
9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Department of Justice lawyers have again asked a federal appeals court in New York to delay lifting age restrictions and prescription requirements on an emergency contraceptive popularly known as the morning-after ...
9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0