Tag Archives: Science of Happiness

Through our awareness and actions, we gain the courage to change the things we can change; the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Some factors facilitate happiness and meaning, some make harder to be happy and live a meaningful life. Still, in most of the situations, we deeply influence the lion-share of our lives’ outcomes. Happiness and meaning are not only an end result, they are a way of living: here and now, we can live happily and meaningfully. Before and after reading our book, please think about this:
– this book is the start of a conversation, an eye-opener on new opportunities and a reinforfer of what you already now. Here you find examples of wisdom from Ayurveda, Dharma, First Nation culture, etc. to show the elements, that we need to nurture the seed of happiness, can be found in different traditions. It is just a matter of planting the seed and acting to nurture it;
– happiness: an art and science? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (psychology professor) said “A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe”. And from the research of Daniel Gilbert (author of “Stumbling on Happiness”) it emerges there are many similarities about how we experience life. The approach we apply in our lives, and the one we suggest here, is to walk a middle-way: happiness and meaning have many elements shared by most of human beings (that can be summarized as the science part), and also many which are entirely subjective (can we call it the “art part”?). Here, we try to mark as clearly as possible what is proven by scientific research; the rest, is not science but based on experiences and inspiring examples. Examples which worked well, and which of course needs to be evaluated by each person in each context;
– we are the only ones who can make the choice to live happily and meaningfully. Our goal is not to make you happy, that is something external factors including us cannot accomplish. Our goal is to awaken in you the wisdom you already have, and live happily and meaningfully in ways which are suitable to you. Think about what happy and meaningful living is for you, so you can live a fulfilling life; it is also to make you consider how different variables facilitate your joyful living;
– being happy is a choice we make right here and now, by living joyfully. It is not a place to reach in the future. Is happiness about attitudes, and also the results of such attitudes? Why is happiness often seen, mistakenly, as a place to reach?
meaning and purpose are important: doing what matters for us, in meaningful ways, is one of the strongest contributions to well-being. Short term gratification brings pleasure, and gets us running on the hedonistic treadmill craving for more. How do we start living happily? By understanding who/what really counts in life? Understanding that, often, the more things we own, the more things own us, and that the struggle to get more in our daily life is not benefiting our happiness and meaning?
a balanced life is facilitated by acknowledging our feelings, including grief;
– there are ways we facilitate happiness, they can be summarized with the acronym AmAre: being Aware, Meditating, being Active, being Respectful, Eating properly;
– there are ways we measure subjective well-being and thinking about what such formulas mean for us, is even more important than the numbers we get out of them;
– by facilitating other people’s, we facilitate our happiness as well, living joyfully starts from each of us, and materialize with shared happiness. So, share this book with friends, and even more important share with them your attention and time;
there are several “fringe” benefits to living joyfully, happier people are more sociable and energetic, more caring and cooperative, better liked by others, more likely to get married and stay married, to have wider social networks and receive support from friends, show more flexibility and creativity in their thinking, are more productive and work, are recognized as better leaders and negotiators, and so earn accordingly. They are more tenacious when times are not pleasant, have stronger immune systems, are healthier both physically and mentally, and live longer;
– when we look at the context where we are here and now, what about thinking in terms of degrees of appropriateness, instead of only right or wrong? Why to see only in black and white, when we can enjoy a full spectrum of colours in between?

May all beings be happy and free,

Tue, Jul 6, 6:30-8:30pm; FREE.
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, UBC

In this engaging and interactive panel discussion, join UBC researchers investigating the science behind happiness and what it means to live an abundant life. Find out how positive human emotions can translate into a more fulfilling life. Reception is at 6:30pm. Panel discussion begins at 7pm.

ELIZABETH W. DUNN, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Dunn’s research interests are happiness, self-knowledge, affective forecasting and implicit social cognititon.

LARA AKNIN, PhD Canadidate, graduated from the University of British Columbia with an Honours degree in Psychology in 2005. After taking a year off, she came back for more and started her Master’s degree in 2006. Lara received her MA in 2008 and is now working towards her Ph.D in Social Psychology. Lara is primarily interested in happiness and well-being, with her most recent work examining the relationship between wealth and well-being.