There’s a school of psychology that’s gaining some warranted attention recently- it’s called POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY. Those who study and practice positive psychology believe that happiness is a goal people can and should work towards. While research suggests that individual’s inherit a certain indexed level of happiness from their parents, it also proves that the index level can be improved. Good news for those of us that come from a family of worriers! Knowing how to enjoy life and up your happiness index level might just be the key to increasing your overall health as well.
So, how do we go about increasing our happiness level? By understanding our personal pleasures and gratifications and increasing the frequency of those things in our lives.
Pleasures are sensory experiences that cause us to feel good albeit fleetingly; ie. eating chocolate ice cream, having sex, a warm bath.
Gratifications are activities we partake in that we like to do and fully engage us. They can be challenging as well. Often they require us to draw on our strengths and skills. In the best case scenario, work is a gratification. Often the hobbies we engage in prove to be sources of gratification, like yoga, golf, basketball, sewing, scrabble, learning a new language. These types of activities often have a learning curve and offer the possibility of improvement. The benefits reaped from gratifications are lasting and create more substantial increase in your happiness level.
Gratifications should be chosen over short-term pleasures. Over time, pleasures like eating a slice of chocolate cake every night after dinner have a diminishing return on good feelings over time. You’ll receive your biggest dose of good feelings the first night you indulge but the dose gets smaller and smaller with each passing night’s dessert. When consumed less and more sparingly, pleasures offer their greatest return. So, choose carefully when indulging and don’t indulge often, you’ll get more “bang for your buck” that way. And look into new sources of gratification for 2011 or build on the ones you may have let taper off for whatever reason last year. It’s only February. There’s still lots of space left in 2011 to increase your happiness level!
Let me know what sources of gratification you enjoy in the comment section below.