Ask Dr. Joy: the psychology of happy people

By WEEK Producer

July 10, 2013 Updated Jul 10, 2013 at 9:39 PM CDT

Throughout the years we have dedicated many segments to the science of happiness. Tonight we will look at some new research related to happiness and some components that have been identified as essential to creating a happy soul.

What are some of the basics that we know about happiness?

- Always quoted, the studies by the University of Illinois’ Ed Diener report that happiness is the most valued outcome of people throughout the world

- Happiness is valued more than being rich, getting into heaven, and finding a purpose or meaning in life.

- Happiness has been linked to higher immune functioning and boosts in creativity.

- Happiness is defined by most people as a “sense of peace” or contentment in their life.

What else do we know about Happiness?

- Studies we have discussed in the past have shown that we all have a natural “set point” for happiness, but that our choices can affect our happiness quotient.

- You can choose to move your happiness level by making choices that enhance your well-being.

- Now we know that risk is an important element in happiness. Recent research shows that when you stretch and expand your risk level, your happiness level grows.

- We also have learned that those who are curious in nature are happier people than those who do not take risks or reach for new opportunities.

What tips do you have for us as a means of enhancing our happiness?

- Search out new activities. Stretch your limits and go beyond comfortable boundaries. Try a new sport, or take a class, or do something you’ve always wanted to do.

- Focus less on details: Happiest people don’t get caught in the small things… they tend to be less critical and accepting. So open your mind to seeing the positive.

- Support a friend: Happiness studies show that those who lend a hand and support others are much happier. Studies also show that if you spend time with a friend talking about memories you will enhance your happiness level, as well as theirs.

- Be comfortable with emotions: Happiest people know there are positive times and some uncomfortable times and they are willing to let things roll off their back. Happiest people know how to find a balance and maintain some stability in daily life.

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