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Western University
Health Sciences
Health Sciences 1001A/B
Shauna Burke

The Benefits of Happiness:  Suggested that increased happiness could lead to: o Longer life o Health o Resilience – being able to bounce back o Increased performance  Standard of living increased dramatically yet happiness in industrialized countries has shown little increase over time The Pursuit of Happiness:  Many decisions are rooted in the desire to become happy  Often, the decisions we make fail at increasing happiness  American spend $750 million on self-help books and >1 billion on motivational speakers per year  Positive psychology (“science of happiness) offered in many colleges and universities Where are we going wrong?  Dr. Daniel Gilbert blames culture, genes and imagination 1. Culture  buy bigger, newer, better things o However…. “stuff“ does not buy happiness o Money buys happiness for those who lack basic needs o >$50,000 income: increased money does not equal increased happiness 2. Genes  hardwired to reproduce o However… children have small negative effect when parents asked about happiness “in the moment” o Does not mean that moments of joy and happiness do not exist o This area of research can be flawed because if you ask in the moment, a parent probably wont be that happy because they’re trying to handle their kids 3. Imagination  when we envision the future we often see perpetual gloom or happily-ever after o However…. Unhappiness and joy do not last as long as we expect o Examples  winning lottery can casue unhappiness and someone disabled can have really good QOL What Makes us Happy?  Research shows…. 1. Age: o Positively associated with happiness o Most happy group = men 65 and older o Least happy group = men 18 to 29 2. Marital status: o married people are happier than singles 3. Education: o College/ university grads are happier than those without a degree 4. Religion: o Religious individuals are happier 5. Health: o Healthier people are happier Happiness: Nature vs. Nurture:  Studies of twins suggest that we all have an innate level of happiness  It is possible to lift our biologically set range of happiness, at least to some extent, if we work at it  “You can’t take a grouch and make him giggle all the time” – Seligman Happiness Around the World:  People express fundamental emotions in a similar way all over the world  In all cultures = happiness depends on close family and other human relationships (fundamental desire to belong) this is the one thing consistant amongst different cultural groups  Recent study by social psychologist Adrian White (social psychologist)  “World Map of Happiness” o Looked at # of dif sources and measures to determine how happy countries are on a national level o Used statistical data (2002-2005) and subjective responses of 80,000 people to map well-being in 178 countries o Developed in part due to increased “political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator along with measures of wealth”  Results: o Strongest determinants of national happiness: 1. Health levels 2. Prosperity 3. Access to basic education o Population size  smaller countries scored better while larger populations fared worse  Happiness rankings: o #1 – Denmark  for strong national identity, national beauty, access to health care and education o #2 – Switzerland o #3 – Austria o #10 – Canada o #23 – United States o #41 – United Kingdom o #82 – China o #90 – Japan o #125 – India o #178 – Burundi Happiness: Advice from the Experts:  Find small things we can do every day that bring us joy  Nurture relationships: family and friends are crucial for happiness  Find meaning in life  religion, spirituality, philosophy of life  Set goals  To predict how happy something will make you, talk to others who have experienced it  New car vs. trip to Europe  more happiness = trip to Europe Happiness Index: The Smile   According to Dr. Seligman there are 2 types of smiles: 1. “Duchenne” Smile (duchaine identified it): o Genuine; corners of mouth turn up, skin around eyes wrinkles o Facial muscles involved are difficult to control voluntarily, it is hard to fake 2. “Pan American” Smile: o Inauthentic o Named after the airline o Expression of courtesy and politeness rather than joy (used for work)  Putting more joy in our smiles might positively influence our health and happiness  Recent study (Keltner and Harker): o Psychologists looked through 141 yearbook pictures from 1960  separated Duchenne from Pan American smilers o All smilers contacted at age 27,43 and 52 o Results:  Those with Duchenne:  More likely to be married and stay married  More likely to experience greater sense of personal well-being  Results consistent 30 years later Humor, Laughter and Health:  The scientific study of humor and laughter… o Still in its infancy o Hindered by neglect, theoretical incompleteness, and isolation from other relevant fields  A “Sense” of Humor o “Tickling of the mind” (Darwin) o Humor  the ability or quality of people, objects, or situations to evoke feelings of amusement in other people o Sense of humor  the ability to experience humor, a quality which all people share o Associated with:  Self-reported physical health  Increased self esteem  Reduced psychological symptoms related to negative life events  Increased ability to relax  R
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