What is true happiness? Are there any ways we can enhance it?
In her book, "The How of Happiness", Prof Sonja Lyubomirsky, an expert in positive psychology, shared with us with empirical evidence the ways leading to true happiness. Prof Lyubomirsky found out that a significant portion (40 per cent) of the happiness we have is determined by our attitudes and behaviours. She listed 12 simple and effective exercises for gaining happiness, so as to enhance motivation, creativity, resiliency and efficiency.
In this and forthcoming issues, Psychological Services Group will introduce the 12 exercises in the hope we may be able to learn new ideas from science and adopt new habits to gain lasting happiness.
Happiness Exercise 1: Expressing Gratitude
Gratitude is expression of thankfulness for, and appreciation of, life and other people. Human beings tend to pay more attention to negative issues. However, if we express gratitude, our focus would be shifted to something more positive and we would no longer take things for granted. Consequently, we can develop a more positive mentality.
There are various ways to express gratitude, for instance, "We all need to face many different things or people in life, however none of them should be taken for granted. Think of what happened in the past week, and list five that you are grateful for in respect of persons, things and experiences."
Indeed, there is evidence that shows the efficacy of the above exercise. Researchers found out that for those who did the above exercise once a week for six consecutive weeks, their physical health, sleep and social relationship were significantly better than those who did a similar but irrelevant exercise.
Furthermore, convergent evidence obtained from other similar studies shows that the same exercise can be done in other formats, such as gratitude diary, sharing a gratitude letter with someone, or visiting someone to show your gratitude. These are all equally effective in enhancing physical and psychological health.
So let us be grateful for what science has told us: we can all create happiness for our own by simply adjusting our attitudes and habits in life.
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