A very interesting article was found on the website of USA Today (link). Some excerpts are included below.
“The happiest people spend the least time alone. They pursue personal growth and intimacy; they judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have.
‘Materialism is toxic for happiness’ says University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener. Even rich materialists aren’t as happy as those who care less about getting and spending.”
“Life satisfaction occurs most often when people are engaged in absorbing activities that cause them to forget themselves, lose track of time and stop worrying.”
“Gratitude has a lot to do with life satisfaction, psychologists say. Talking and writing about what they’re grateful for amplifies adults’ happiness, new studies show. Other researchers have found that learning to savor even small pleasures has the same effect. And forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness, says University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson.”
“There’s also evidence that altruistic acts boost happiness in the giver.”
A website called Joyful Days (link) seems to agree with these for the most part.
“The one thing most studies on happiness agree on is this: family and relationships are the surest way to happiness.
Close behind are meaningful work, positive thinking, and the ability to forgive.
What does not seem to make people happy are money, material possessions, intelligence, education, age, gender or attractiveness.”
Some fantastic testimonials can be found at the BBC News website (link):
“I replaced my black cycle helmet with a bright pink one. People used to look a bit scared when I cycled up to them, now the sight of a fat lady on a bike makes them smile.
“I’m 49 years old and a company director with far too much to worry me. I went for a mind-clearing walk through a wood the other day and, in a clearing, I spotted a home-made swing slung from the high branches of an old oak tree. After a quick check to be sure no-one was watching, I got on board and had the best 10 minutes of fun I’ve had all year. I left feeling astonishingly happier. I hope it’s still there this weekend!
Neil Hardie, Scotland”
“I’ve discovered that a good deed can benefit me as much as the person I do it for. For example, I recently had an opportunity to help someone use a public network PC at the library to retrieve pics of their newborn great granddaughter in Australia. They were thrilled and I felt cheery for the rest of the day.
Heather Jones, UK”
“I spent years struggling with depression and low self esteem when a friend’s advice changed my perspective dramatically. “It’s hard work to be happy you know”. Until then I had always felt it was the world’s fault I was so unhappy. Since actively taking this advice I overcame much of my discontent. It’s crucial to make happiness your goal and do whatever it takes to achieve it.
Linda O’Sullivan, Ireland”
“Happiness is whatever you want it to be, for me it is ketchup, my friends, family, my psychotic one eyed cat and my hairy boyfriend Rhys. Never forget the magic you believed in when you were a child, anything is possible if you believe it.
Vez Hudson, Leeds” (Is Vez in reality Amelie Poulin?! How lovely.)
“Nurturing and loving someone or something special is a key to happiness. So too is unconditional acceptance. This little one makes me happy and she asks for very little in return.
Julie Williamson, London (Julie is referring to her cat. I can testify for a similar thing as well).
“Once I realised I didn’t need all the rubbish that’s advertised around me and I saw I already had enough of everything I instantly cheered up. I have a wonderful family and the simple joy of seeing my baby smile or giggle lightens my life immensely A cuddle with my husband and daughter, pottering in the garden, a nice meal with friends. These are all things that make you happy. I might hate my job, but I love my life.
Helen Fitton, UK”