Try the nifty exercises in the article below. See if they lift your mood. They are magikal techniques to propel you out of a negative state of mind. Ah this is what we need — Magic instead of anti-depressants. Throw away the prozac & welbutrin! We’ve got magik: mind-body-soul-spirit techniques! — Katia
The Art of Happiness, by Prescription
Nov. 27, 2006 — Amid the stress of the holiday season, scientists have some comforting news: People can make themselves happier, research suggests — and not just for a day or two, but long-term. There’s no shortage of advice in how to become a happier person, as a visit to any bookstore will demonstrate.
In fact, Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues have collected more than 100 specific recommendations, ranging from those of the Buddha through the self-improvement industry of the 1990s. The problem is, most of the books on store shelves aren’t backed up by rigorous research, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, who’s conducting such studies now. In fact, she said, there has been very little research in how people become happier. The reason, she said, is that many researchers have considered that quest to be futile. For decades, a widely accepted view has been that people are stuck with a basic setting on their happiness thermostat. It says the effects of good or bad life events like marriage, a raise, divorce, or disability will simply fade with time. As two researchers put it in 1996, “It may be that trying to be happier is as futile as trying to be taller.”
But recent long-term studies have revealed that the happiness thermostat is more malleable than the popular theory maintained, at least in its extreme form. “Set-point is not destiny,” said psychologist Ed Diener of the University of Illinois. One new study showing change in happiness levels followed thousands of Germans for 17 years. It found that about a quarter changed significantly over that time in their basic level of satisfaction with life. (That’s a popular happiness measure; some studies sample how one feels through the day instead.) Nearly a tenth of the German participants changed by three points or more on a 10-point scale. Other studies show an effect of specific life events, though of course the results are averages and can’t predict what will happen to particular individuals. Results show long-lasting shadows associated with events like serious disability, divorce, widowhood, and getting laid off. The boost from getting married, on the other hand, seems to dissipate after about two years, said psychologist Richard E. Lucas of Michigan State University.
Still, many people want to be happier. What can they do? That’s where research by Lyubomirsky, Seligman and others comes in. Exercises such as thinking of three good things that happened during the day are being tested by Seligman’s group at the University of Pennsylvania. People keep doing it on their own because it’s immediately rewarding, said Seligman’s colleague Acacia Parks. It makes people focus more on good things that happen, which might otherwise be forgotten because of daily disappointments, she said. Miller said the exercise made her notice more good things in her day, and that now she routinely lists 10 or 20 of them rather than just three.
A second approach that has shown promise in Seligman’s group has people discover their personal strengths through a specialized questionnaire and choose the five most prominent ones. Then, every day for a week, they are to apply one or more of their strengths in a new way. Strengths include things like the ability to find humor or summon enthusiasm, appreciation of beauty, curiosity and love of learning. The idea of the exercise is that using one’s major “signature” strengths may be a good way to get engaged in satisfying activities. These two exercises were among five tested on more than 500 people who’d visited a Web site called “Authentic Happiness.” Seligman and colleagues reported last year that the two exercises increased happiness and reduced depressive symptoms for the six months that researchers tracked the participants. The effect was greater for people who kept doing the exercises frequently. A followup study has recently begun.
Another approach under study now is having people work on savoring the pleasing things in their lives like a warm shower or a good breakfast, Parks said.
Yet another promising approach is having people write down what they want to be remembered for, to help them bring their daily activities in line with what’s really important to them, she said.
Lyubomirsky, meanwhile, is testing some other simple strategies. “This is not rocket science,” she said. For example, in one experiment, participants were asked to regularly practice random acts of kindness, things like holding a door open for a stranger or doing a roommate’s dishes, for 10 weeks. The idea was to improve a person’s self-image and promote good interactions with other people. Participants who performed a variety of acts, rather than repeating the same ones, showed an increase in happiness even a month after the experiment was concluded. Those who kept on doing the acts on their own did better than those who didn’t.
Other approaches she has found some preliminary promise for include thinking about the happiest day in your life over and over again, without analyzing it, and writing about how you’ll be 10 years from now, assuming everything goes just right. One thing is clear, Diener said, and that is happiness takes work.
“Happiness is the process, not the place,” he said via e-mail. “So many of us think that when we get everything just right, and obtain certain goals and circumstances, everything will be in place and we will be happy…. But once we get everything in place, we still need new goals and activities. The Princess could not just stop when she got the Prince.”
From Discovery News 11-27-2006
The following was in the same email the article came in. (From care2.com).
There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life–happiness, freedom, and peace of mind–are always attained by giving them to someone else.
–Peyton Conway March