Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Happiness model could help people go from good to great

Date:
May 7, 2012
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
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 a psychologist who identified two keys to becoming happier and staying that way.

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'."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. M. Sheldon, S. Lyubomirsky. The Challenge of Staying Happier: Testing the Hedonic Adaptation Prevention Model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2012; 38 (5): 670 DOI: 10.1177/0146167212436400

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Happiness model could help people go from good to great." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507113742.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2012, May 7). Happiness model could help people go from good to great. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507113742.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Happiness model could help people go from good to great." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507113742.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

AP (Apr. 10, 2014) As states slash funding for mental health services, police officers are interacting more than ever with people suffering from schizophrenia and other serious disorders of the mind. The consequences can be deadly. (April 10) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Newsy (Apr. 9, 2014) A University of Pittsburgh study found pop music that mentions alcohol is linked to higher drinking rates among teens. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins