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Becoming Happier Takes Both a Will and a Proper Way: An Experimental Longitudinal Intervention To Boost Well-Being

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An 8-month-long experimental study examined the immediate and longer term effects of regularly practicing two assigned positive activities (expressing optimism and gratitude) on well-being. More important, this intervention allowed us to explore the impact of two metafactors that are likely to influence the success of any positive activity: whether one self-selects into the study knowing that it is about increasing happiness and whether one invests effort into the activity over time. Our results indicate that initial self-selection makes a difference, but only in the two positive activity conditions, not the control, and that continued effort also makes a difference, but, again, only in the treatment conditions. We conclude that happiness interventions are more than just placebos, but that they are most successful when participants know about, endorse, and commit to the intervention.
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... They often help people to overcome the phenomenon of 'hedonic adaptation' (Frederick & Loewenstein, 1999), the tendency to habituate to positive (and negative) life circumstances and experiences (Lyubomirsky, 2011;Lyubomirsky et al., 2005;Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2004, 2006. PPIs include a wide range of interventions, such as replaying positive life events , focusing on character strengths , practicing gratitude (Emmons & McCullough, 2004), performing acts of kindness (e.g., Dunn et al., 2008;Layous et al., 2012;Lyubomirsky et al., 2011), writing about and affirming core values (Cohen & Sherman, 2014), and practicing self-reflection (King, 2001;Lyubomirsky et al., 2006). People who undertake such activities tend to show improvements in life satisfaction that persist for weeks or even months, relative to people who complete neutral control activities. ...
... Finally, previous research on PPIs (e.g., Lyubomirsky et al., 2011; found benefits that persisted for long periods of time and identified multiple moderators of such long-term effects (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005;Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009). One that is especially germane is whether or not participants continue to practice the activity that they were introduced to. ...
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An increasingly large body of research in social psychology has underscored the power of brief situational interventions in promoting purposeful change. The present research contributes to the literature on positive psychology interventions (PPIs) by testing a novel volitional intervention that encourages people to engage in activities ‘outside their comfort zone.’ Participants were randomly assigned either to a condition that encouraged them to engage in an activity outside of their comfort zone over the following two weeks or to a control condition that encouraged them to keep a record of their daily activities. The intervention boosted the life satisfaction of people who were relatively less happy at baseline, with exploratory analyses tentatively suggesting benefits strongest among people who went outside their comfort zone by helping others. Discussion centers on the potential of behavioral ‘stretch’ interventions to promote positive change and well�being among people dissatisfied with their life.
... Greater effectiveness is also attributed to a combination of positive activities, rather than one single repetitive activity because participants might adapt to the positive changes that this activity may bring (Lyubomirsky et al., 2011). A so-called "shotgun approach" (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009) where a set of various positive interventions is applied at once is often a better approach than engaging in one type of activity. ...
... Therefore, they had no expectations regarding the outcomes; yet, positive activities work better when people believe they may increase their well-being (Layous & Lyubomirsky, 2014). A longitudinal study that involved positive interventions (including a gratitude activity) suggested that a meta-factor that contributed to the success of the interventions was the fact that participants self-selected to the happiness-enhancing condition and knew that the activities they were asked to do were meant to increase their well-being (Lyubomirsky et al., 2011). ...
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Introduction: Gratitude is known to have beneficial effects on the well-being of various populations, including women with breast cancer. The present diary study examined if daily feelings of gratitude would affect the daily functioning of women with breast cancer and if after a 2-week-long gratitude intervention they would function better than before it.Methods: Participants were 62 women with breast cancer. Half of them were randomly assigned to the gratitude condition, half to the control condition. All of them completed a 14-day diary that measured their daily gratitude, well-being, affect, satisfaction with life, perceived social support, and other aspects of daily functioning. The gratitude group took part in an intervention that involved wearing a smartwatch that asked them what they were grateful for, three times a day for 14 days. The control group wore smartwatches that sent neutral notifications. Before and after the study, participants completed a set of trait-level scales that measured their dispositional gratitude, depression, anxiety, stress coping styles, and other correlates of gratitude.Results: Daily gratitude was positively correlated with all aspects of good daily functioning (e.g., positive affect, well-being, acceptance of illness), and negatively with negative affect – regardless of the study condition. There were no significant differences in the functioning of women in the gratitude intervention and the control group, besides in daily perceived social support: women who practiced gratitude felt more supported by others on an everyday basis. All participants had a higher level of acceptance of illness and a lower level of anxiety after the study, compared to their baseline scores.Conclusion: We found that daily feelings of gratitude were associated with the good functioning of the patients in everyday life. Keeping a two-week diary that involved self-monitoring of one’s mood and well-being led to better functioning after the study, compared to the initial levels. Yet, research into the effectiveness of gratitude interventions in this population should continue and we conclude the paper with suggestions for future research. We believe this study contributes to the understanding of mechanisms behind a breast cancer patient’s daily functioning.
... Therefore, this paper does not make a strict distinction between the three. Helping behavior refers to giving resources (i.e., love, information, money) to others or acting altruistically in general (Foa & Foa, 1974;Jia, Zhong, & Xie, 2020), which can help to improve individual positive emotions and psychosocial adjustment (Lyubomirsky, Dickerhoof, Boehm, & Sheldon, 2011;Liu, 2018;Wei, Lv, Ji, Chen, & Zhang, 2015) and promote social welfare awareness and social harmony (Godfrey, 2005). Eisenberg (2014) proposed that helping behavior occurs through three stages: the stage of focusing on the needs of others, the stage of establishing the will to help others, and the stage of linking intention and helping behavior. ...
Article
Previous studies have revealed that situational risk factors have a significant influence on the willingness to help. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, maybe risk perception of COVID-19 is also correlated to the willingness to help. This study examined the mediating effect of interpersonal alienation and the moderating effect of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression in the relationship between risk perception of COVID-19 and willingness to help. Data from a large sample of Chinese college students (N = 2, 163) completed the measures of risk perception of COVID-19, willingness to help, interpersonal alienation, emotion regulation strategies including cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression. The results indicated that the risk perception of COVID-19 negatively correlated to willingness to help. Interpersonal alienation partially mediated the link between risk perception of COVID-19 and willingness to help. College students’ expressive suppression moderated the associations between interpersonal alienation and willingness to help. And who adopted more expressive suppression, the connection between interpersonal alienation and willingness to help was weaker compared to students who reported less expressive suppression. But cognitive reappraisal did not moderate the relationship between risk perception of COVID-19 and interpersonal alienation. Implications of the present paper for theory and practice are discussed.
... This result was similar to the previous studies; that is, hope and resilience predicted the psychological status and life satisfaction among cancer patients [38][39][40][41]. It is generally believed that a high ratio of positive to negative effects is characteristic of an individual's mental health [42] and that these positive effects (e.g., positive belief, self-efficacy; positive cognition, hope; positive emotion, optimism; positive personal resource, resilience) have highly adaptive value, enabling individual to achieve a more vigorous life, a healthier lifestyle, and even a better immune system [43][44][45]. It should be noted that hope and resilience were the effective components of the intervention to promote life satisfaction at the two time points after the intervention, respectively. ...
Article
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... Factors That Lead to Happiness in General According to (Layard, 2005), happy people are cheerful and active ones. Lyubomirsky Boehm, & Sheldon, 2011) has defined happiness as a good feeling, meaningful and value of life in a person with joy, satisfaction, or positive well-being experience. According to • 50% genetic and personality traits • It could be affected by 10% environmentally, and • By 40% affected by purposeful activities and practices. ...
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The demand for improving health status of Chinese residents is growing with the rapid economic development. Happiness, which could be improved by some brief, self-administered, and cost-effective interventions, is reported to be associated with mortality, longevity, and self-rated health. Therefore, it is essential to assess the effect of happiness on health in China. Using data from the Chinese General Social Survey 2017, the present study explored the effect of happiness on health among Chinese residents after controlling for demographic variables, socioeconomic factors, social relationships, locations, and insurance plan. The happiness effect across subsamples by age and resident type and the mediator role of happiness were also evaluated. Based on an ordered probit regression model, we found that the effect of happiness on health was significantly positive in full sample and all subsamples. Using a structural equation model, we demonstrated that happiness could partially mediate the relationship between socioeconomic factors, social relationships factors, and health. Our data supplement the existing literature on the relationship between happiness and health and provide evidence for policymakers and stakeholders focusing on happiness as a health strategy to improve overall societal wellbeing.
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Though gratitude research in organizational behavior (OB) is nascent, this emotion has a rich history in the social sciences. Research has shown gratitude to promote prosocial behaviors, encourage personal well-being, and foster interpersonal relationships. However, gratitude research has been siloed among these three outcomes of gratitude (moral, wellness, and relational). Similarly, past reviews of gratitude have focused on only one group of outcomes, one of its forms (trait, state, or expressed), or empirical findings without emphasis on the theoretical underpinnings. In contrast, this review recognizes that each type of gratitude, its functions, and outcomes are part of a single process model of gratitude. As such, in the current review we provide a comprehensive assessment of gratitude in the social sciences by distilling and organizing the literature per our process model of episodic gratitude. Then, we translate the insights for management scholars, highlighting possible differences and synergies between extant research and workplace gratitude thereby helping advance “gratitude science” in the workplace. In all, this review (a) examines definitions and operationalizations of gratitude and provides recommendations for organizational research; (b) proposes a process model of episodic workplace gratitude as a conceptual map to guide future OB research on gratitude; (c) reviews empirical gratitude research through the lens of our process model; and (d) discusses the current state of the literature, important differences for workplace gratitude, and future directions for organizational scholars.
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Why it may be Impossible to Increase a Person's Happiness LevelWhy it may be Possible to Increase a Person's happiness level after allA New Conceptual Model of HappinessTesting the ModelHappiness-inducing InterventionsFuture Research and Recommendations for InterventionsFactors Influencing Participants' Acceptance of InterventionsRecommendations for HappinessConclusion
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