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Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change

Review of General Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.78). 05/2005; 9(2):111-131. DOI: 10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.111

ABSTRACT The pursuit of happiness is an important goal for many people. However, surprisingly little scientific research has focused on the question of how happiness can be increased and then sustained, probably because of pessimism engendered by the concepts of genetic determinism and hedonic adaptation. Nevertheless, emerging sources of optimism exist regarding the possibility of permanent increases in happiness. Drawing on the past well-being literature, the authors propose that a person's chronic happiness level is governed by 3 major factors: a genetically determined set point for happiness, happiness-relevant circumstantial factors, and happiness-relevant activities and practices. The authors then consider adaptation and dynamic processes to show why the activity category offers the best opportunities for sustainably increasing happiness. Finally, existing research is discussed in support of the model, including 2 preliminary happiness-increasing interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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    • "Generally, people's enjoyment of an activity declines as they adapt to it (Frederick, Loewenstein 1999). Interruptions may disrupt adaptation and partially reset the baseline response to an activity (Lyubomirsky et al. 2005; Nelson, Meyvis 2008; Nelson et al. 2009; Shuchter, Zisook 1993). For example, most people try to avoid viewing ads embedded in commercial television programs, yet watching those commercials enhanced program enjoyment (Nelson et al. 2009). "
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    • "Reviewing the evidence on happiness and attractiveness, one researcher concluded that the ''bottom line is that good looking people aren't any happier'' (Lyubomirsky 2007). To date, most of the findings on attractiveness mirror a slew of other findings in well-being research that demonstrate that life circumstances explain little of the variance in happiness (Lyubomirsky et al. 2005). A few studies have looked at specific ''objective'' body measurements associated with norms of attractiveness such as height and weight and their relation to happiness or depression. "
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    ABSTRACT: Attractive people enjoy many social and economic advantages. Most studies find effects of attractiveness on happiness or life satisfaction, but based on traditional cross-sectional approaches. We use a large longitudinal survey consisting of a sample of male and female high school graduates from Wisconsin followed from their late teens to their mid-1960s. The panel construction of the data and the fact that interviews of the siblings of the respondents are available allow us to analyze the effects of physical appearance on psychological well-being (human flourishing) and ill-being (distress and depression) conditioning on unobserved individual heterogeneity via random effects. We find a significant positive relationship between measures of physical attractiveness (greater facial attractiveness at high school, and lower BMI and greater height in middle age) and a measure of psychological well-being, and a significant negative relationship between measures of physical attractiveness and distress/depression. These effects are slightly smaller when we adjust for demographics and mental ability but, with the exception of height, remain significant. Our results suggest that attractiveness impacts psychological well-being and depression directly as well as through its effects on other life outcomes.
    Journal of Happiness Studies 06/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10902-015-9644-6 · 1.88 Impact Factor
    • "External factors relating to activity features (e.g., the dosage and variety of activities) may amplify or attenuate the effects of positive activities on happiness (Lyubomirsky and Layous 2013). For instance, the frequency/dosage of performing the positive activities influences their success at boosting happiness; and it is not necessarily the case of ''more is better,'' as overdoing the activity may lead to hedonic adaptation (Lyubomirskyet al. 2005b). Performing a variety of positive activities concurrently also yields greater benefits than simply practicing one single activity (Parks et al. 2012; Schueller and Parks 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Building on the empirical evidence that demonstrates that positive interventions successfully enhance well-being, this article examines the factors that would moderate their efficacy. First, it briefly discusses the theoretical and empirical support for the importance and benefits of well-being. Second, the article presents empirical evidence illustrating how positive interventions promote well-being and how they can be incorporated into traditional psychotherapy as a form of positive psychotherapy. Third, it examines the mechanisms that may undermine or improve the effectiveness of positive interventions. In addition to examining the factors that moderate the effects of positive interventions on enhancing happiness, the article focuses specifically on the moderating role of personality by exploring the personality-well-being associations. Finally, the article proposes strategies to counteract the attenuating moderating influences. The conclusion of the article suggests that it is important to customize positive psychology interventions for individuals to maximize their efficacy.
    Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy 06/2015; 45(2). DOI:10.1007/s10879-014-9291-y
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