Happiness Summarized

As a supposed “expert on happiness” (try googling expert on happiness for fun), I am often asked to summarize what I have learned from the books and articles I have read and have written about. For all you lazy bums out there, here is the condensed version 🙂 Most people, through a combination of education and genes, have a set level of happiness. While circumstances may change that level, we usually revert back to our mean. Despite that, there are 10 things you can do to improve your mean level of happiness. They sound artificial, but they work. So the… Read More

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Positive Psychology in Action

The advent of positive psychology, as mentioned in my recent posts on happiness, is leading to a revolution in psychological counseling. As depression, anxiety and other ills seem to be largely caused by negative thoughts, psychologists have turned to cognitive behavioral therapy to teach patients how to focus on the positive and prevent negative thoughts from creeping into their minds. Even better, patients rapidly show dramatic improvement and sessions typically end after 10 to 25 visits. CBT has been shown to work, often better than drugs, for depression, anxiety, insomnia and hypochondria. It seems to quell insomnia better than Ambien… Read More

Happiness and the dangers of belief in the written word :)

It’s interesting how gullible we humans are. If we read something or watch it in a documentary, we are more likely to believe it. Then there is the magic of Google. If you write enough on a topic, you start showing up in search results on the topic – regardless of how much you really know. Soon enough someone comes along taking you for an expert in the field and asks to interview you. And so I was pleasantly surprised to be mistaken for an “International Expert on Happiness” and asked to answer a few questions. I started by telling… Read More

The Science of Happiness

I recently came across an interesting article on the science of happiness in Harvard Magazine recounting the emergence of “positive psychology” as a field of study, its findings and the emergence of new research areas such as the study of joy instead of happiness. Many of the findings will be familiar to the readers of my previous posts on happiness. However, a few of the research results were surprising such as the fact that having kids tends to slightly decrease happiness. Here are two interesting paragraphs: “Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman of Princeton (see “The Marketplace of… Read More

The Pursuit of Happiness: six experts tell what they’ve done to achieve it

I came across the following article in the Wall Street Journal last week. Many of the themes and experts will be familiar to readers of my previous posts on happiness (hedonic adaptation, Alan Krueger, etc.) but I thought it was interesting nonetheless. “Yes, money can buy happiness. But you have to spend it with care. Take your dad to the Super Bowl. Buy a home near the office. Get married. Go out to dinner with the family. Take a memorable vacation, and be sure to buy souvenirs. Where does this advice come from? I talked to half-a-dozen academics who specialize… Read More

The Psychology of Happiness – Part 2

A few months ago I blogged about the Psychology of Happiness (www.fabricegrinda.com/?p=78) which showed that empirical evidence suggested that most people have a mean level of happiness they rarely deviate from and that beyond a minimal level changes in financial circumstances had very little impact on happiness due to “hedonic adaptation.” The article went on to suggest several ways of systematically improving happiness. Recent research of two Princeton professors, Alan Krueger (who was my labor economics professor at Princeton) and Daniel Kahneman further support this theory. Their paper, published in the June 30 issue of Science, shows that while… Read More

The Psychology of Happiness

I recently came across an amazing article on happiness. It is well researched, written and presented. Interestingly, maybe even ironically, it is written by analysts at an investment bank! They find that most people have a mean level of happiness that is largely genetic and hard to deviate from as people quickly assimilate any changes in their life circumstances – a process called “hedonic adaptation.” However, they do find 9 ways to systematically improve happiness (in no particular order): 1. Don’t equate happiness with money. 2. Exercise regularly. 3. Have sex. 4. Devote time and effort to close relationships. 5…. Read More