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PREVENTATIVE HEALTH IN PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS WHAT SCIENCE AND LIFE TELL US MARY JO TODORAN, MSW, LCSW, ACSW IPFW/PARKVIEW Student Assistance Program
WHY IT MATTERS
Happy students are More resilient (they bounce back) More cooperative and less self-centered More willing to help and be team players More forgiving and frustration tolerant Better self-controlled Better performers than the less happy Healthier and live longer (lower blood pressure, more robust immune systems, and tolerate more pain)
Happiness is an antidote for depression OPTIMISM inoculates against depression, improves health, and combines with talent and desire to enable achievement. Happy students generally are more helpful and charitable. Optimistic students, followed over time, had higher incomes at age 35. Happy students draw people to themselves, as opposed to depressed students who isolate. Having strong social bonds and a sense of belonging is one of the most meaningful contributors to happiness.
Studies have shown Two studies show that focusing on or creating pleasant experiences enhances our learning or performance abilities. Kids who were asked to spend 30 seconds remembering happy things did better on learning tasks they were given just after remembering the happy experience. Internists who were given some candy or who watched a funny video (vs. reading humanistic statements about medicine and a control group) did better at diagnosing a hard-to-diagnose case of liver disease. Cheerful college students ended up earning $25, 000 more per year than their sour counterparts.
Happiness: It’s a choice Working on happiness won’t just make you happier, it will boost the happiness of the people around you!
People are bad at predicting what will make them happy.
Can we buy happiness? A systematic study of 22 people who won major lotteries found that they reverted to their baseline level of happiness over time. How important money is to you, more than money itself, influences your happiness.
It can make a difference People in the U. S. don’t rate quality of life much higher than people in Calcutta U. S. families making $100, 000 are happier than those who struggle, but families making more are not much happier. Relative ranking, how we compare to others matters The choices we make – lose it in Vegas, or use it for good The lack of money creates unhappiness
What does money do? Satisfies basic material needs A way to keep score Win security Earn recognition Foster mastery or the arts Symbolizes status and success Creates power in relationships Buys time
The Hedonistic Treadmill DESIRE “I really want this” SATISFY DESIRE FADES “HAPPINESS” “I got it!”
What we know
Is it related? Age Gender and race Expectations Health
Happiness set point is not fixed One year after becoming quadriplegic, people’s happiness level return to where they were before the drastic change of circumstance Our Happiness Set Point is genetically influenced, but not fixed
THE BIG FIVE Fundamentals of Well-Being 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Relationships: Social Connectedness Positive Emotion Engagement Meaning and Purpose Accomplishment
1. Relationships People who have one or more close friendships are happier. We need close long-term relationships and an ability to confide in others We need to belong Friendships boost immunity and lengthen life Cuts the risk of depression Gives you a sense of identity and self esteem
Relationships Unlike money, marriage is closely related to happiness. 40% of married people are “very happy, ” while only 24% of unmarried, divorced, separated, and widowed people said this. Top 10% of happy people are involved in romantic relationships.
2. Positive Emotion Joy Pleasure Enthusiasm Intimacy Caring for others Gratitude Appreciation Optimism
Gratitude and Appreciation Grateful people are happier and more satisfied, feel physically healthy, and exercise more Grateful people have a sense of belonging—less depression and stress Brings freedom from envy Increases energy and enthusiasm Connects you to nature and other people Most world spiritual traditions encourage giving thanks
Optimism Optimists make sense of bad events They are better problem solvers Optimism has profound effects on health Act the way you want to feel Fake it till you make it
Pessimism Pessimists see things as internal, unchangeable, and pervasive. They feel that their troubles last forever, undermine everything they do, and are uncontrollable. They are up to eight times more likely to become depressed. They do worse at school, sports, and most jobs than their talents predict. They have worse physical health and shorter lives, as well as rockier interpersonal relationships. Looking out for number one is more characteristic of sadness than of well-being.
Remove sources of bad feelings Guilt Remorse Shame Anger Envy Boredom Irritation Unforgiveness
3. Engagement (flow) DEFINITION: That joyful feeling we experience when we are deeply involved in an activity that is challenging and well suited to our skills, or when we are trying to reach a meaningful goal.
4. Purpose and Meaning Spiritual people are relatively happier—having strong social support and opportunities for socializing, community service, and making friends. Mindfulness Meditation Hope Transcendent and timeless
5. Accomplishment To be truly happy you need to discover your unique strengths and virtues and use them for a purpose that is greater than your own personal goals. Live the life you are supposed to live Live up to the expectations you set for yourself Do your duty Continue to grow To discover more, visit viacharacter. org
Seligman’s list of virtues/signature strengths Wisdom and Knowledge Courage Love and humanity Justice Temperance Spirituality and Transcendence (Website: viacharacter. org)
If You Want to be Happy To engage in happiness inducing activities, you have to “FEEL GOOD. ” Exercise has a large clinical impact on depression and anxiety. SLEEP IS PRIMARY
Happiness takes energy and discipline Pursue a passion Make time and enjoy now Master a new technology Stimulate the mind in new ways Forget about results Laugh out loud Use good manners Start a gratitude journal Give positive reviews Care for others Strengthen your intimate relationships Increase your circle of friends Become an active member of the community PLAY
What is play? PLAY is satisfying Doesn’t necessarily lead to praise or recognition Has no economic significance Doesn’t create social harm Draws you closer to other people HAVE FUN! Make time to be silly Experiment with new interests Go off the path Start a collection
What we get from school Atmosphere of growth Social contact Sense of purpose Self esteem Recognition Fun
A final word about money: Use money to support happy goals Strengthen relationships Promote health Education Have fun Help others, donate time or talent Create happy memories Indulge in a modest splurge Reward yourself Spend it on things YOU value
To define happiness/well-being Positive Emotions + Engagement + Meaning
CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY “The constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. ” Ben Franklin
Sources Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman (Author of Learned Optimism, Authentic Happiness, " and in 2011, "Flourish. ") from the University of Pennsylvania, Positive Psychology Program. The Happiness Project book written by author Gretchen Rubin. She created a kit for “Happiness Circles”. Bill O’Hanlon, Life is Good! The Science of Happiness. Catching Happiness: Putting Positive Psychology into Practice Project Happiness, an exploration group composed of high school seniors in the United States, India, and Nigeria. They created a handbook for groups.