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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    • "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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    ABSTRACT: This conceptual paper explores the use of psychology, especially positive psychology, to inform the design of travel experiences for a specific health outcome - enhanced participant wellbeing or mental health. It extends the concept of sustainable tourism as a tool for local, regional and societal improvement. Mental health is a growing issue in many developed countries: 30% of Australians report depressive symptoms, with implications for social sustainability. The paper reviews how positive psychology seeks to combine hedonic, eudemonic and social wellbeing into the integrated concept of “flourishing”, creating positive emotions, engagement, and meaning. It uses the charity challenge model to explore tourism experiences that enhance participant wellbeing. Charity challenges are participatory, group travel events combined with extended physical activity, awareness-raising, and fund-raising for charity. These events inherently combine recognised pathways to wellbeing, e.g. being active, doing something meaningful, giving, and connecting with others. Other principles from positive psychology, such as intentional and volitional activity, goal attainment, activation of signature strengths, experiencing positive emotions/gratification, and capitalisation on positive experiences, can be incorporated into the event design to foster wellbeing outcomes. The paper suggests how this design might take shape, as well as management implications and further research questions.
    Journal of Sustainable Tourism 09/2015; 23(3):382-400. DOI:10.1080/09669582.2014.986489 · 1.93 Impact Factor
    • "These non-genetic personal aspects are considered to contribute a further forty percent to happiness (Diener et al. 1999), suggesting that a person's happiness is determined by genetic predisposition, behaviors, or individual traits. The ''circumstantial'' (i.e., environmental) factors contribute, at the best—and according to this classification—a thin 10 % (Lyubomirsky et al. 2005). These circumstantial factors include money, the possession of innovative technological devices, living in safe neighborhoods, sunny climates, gender, race, and education, among others. "
    Environment Development and Sustainability 08/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10668-015-9701-7
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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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    ABSTRACT: Could the reason for declining survey data quality be ‘widely used data collection methods are outdated’? After all, the most iconic books on survey research methods (e.g., Dillman 1978; Payne 1951) were written in the pre-Internet, pre-social media, and pre-Millenials era.
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