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


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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    • "satisfaction and SWB research is that this latter group of re searchers have explicitly evaluated genetic or hereditary factors ( Lyubomirsky , Sheldon , & Schkade , 2005 ) . Empirical investigations have measured the impact of genetics on variations in life satis faction , now widely accepted as explaining around 50% of all observed differences ( Lyubomirsky et al . , 2005 ; Zidan sek , 2007 ) . This influence of genetic factors has been estimated by calculating correlations between self - reported happiness levels of identical and non - identical twins and siblings , including those brought up together and those separated at birth . For example , based on sub jective measures reported by adults , the inf"
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    • "Subjective wellbeing is often defined to consist of three components: life satisfaction, positive affect and negative affect (Diener et al., 1999). The term 'happiness' is also used particularly in the economic literature and defined in terms of frequent positive affect, high life satisfaction, and infrequent negative affect (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). These three components are correlated but not isomorphic. "
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    • "With their focus on intentional activity, goal setting, and so forth, charity challenges may provide significant contributions to the goals of lifestyle medicine. Studies of wellbeing suggest that the benefits of mental health interventions may decay as individuals adapt to the intervention (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). In this case, however, charity challenges are episodic and variable events (the cause, physical challenge, fundraising activities, location, fellow participants may all vary), and participating in several charity challenges may circumvent these decay effects. "
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