Scientists find key to happiness

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Indian Express, Agencies : Washington, Happiness can be fleeting, but by hanging on to those good times and not comparing your personal experiences to those of others can help you remain happy for longer, a new study has suggested. Researchers in the US carried out a happiness survey on a group of 481 participants who had 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 researchers found. “The majority got used to the change that had made them happy in the first place,” said Kennon Sheldon, a professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Missouri. “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,” Sheldon said. “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,” he noted. The researchers, who detailed their work in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, said due to genetics and other factors, people have a certain “set-point” of happiness they normally feel, and it can vary from somber to bubbly. According to Sheldon, 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,” he said. Sheldon also noted that the best life changes don't necessarily equate to new purchases. Though a new possession can boost happiness, that purchase has to be experienced a new 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. They don't keep on providing varied positive experiences. Also, relying on material purchases to make us happy can lead to a rise in aspirations like an addiction.“Our model suggests ways to reduce the 'let down' from those purchases,” he suggested. Source: Indian Express

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