The Science of Happiness

November 12, 2012

Yesterday, Dr. Henry Cloud was the guest speaker at our church. I've been looking forward to his talk because I like the way he presents ideas. The sermon was on the scientific research that's been done on happiness. Yay! This is a topic I've been interested in since before psychologists and other scientists started officially studying it. I took a lot of notes during the sermon, and this is what I learned.

One of the most interesting points is that scientists have found that only 10% of our happiness comes from our circumstances. When something good happens, we do get a bump of happiness. But then we settle back down to our “set point” of happiness.

In general though, Dr. Cloud says there is a set of life practices that happy people do that unhappy people don't.

1) Happy people connect – when a person isn't connecting, scientists have found that their brain doesn't fire at full levels

2) Happy people are givers – people who give and share are physically and emotionally healthier; and the same pleasure centers that fire when you eat good food or have sex, fire when you give and share

3) Happy people set and reach goals – they are purposeful, they think about what they are trying to accomplish in the many areas of life, both regular goals and “stretch” goals

4) Happy people have faith – interestingly, this can be measured in blood pressure and other health areas, as well as in the achievement of goals

Dr Cloud said not to be discouraged if you see areas you want to change and it seems to be taking a long time. Do you want to be happier? Try working on one or more of these four areas and see what happens!

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