What Exactly Is Happiness?
Is it possible to recover from complex posttraumatic stress disorder or borderline personality disorder (both of which those who have suffered severe and protracted childhood trauma are at risk of developing in adulthood) and finally be happy? The answer is yes; people who have suffered these disorders can and do recover to the extent that they describe themselves as happy (even if, whilst ill, they considered ever becoming happy an absolute impossibility). But what exactly is happiness?
Factors Found To Correlate Positively With Reported Levels Of Happiness:
The psychologist David Myers found that the following correlated with happiness:
– peace of mind
– good self-care (e.g. healthy diet, sufficient sleep, exercise)
– meaningful / satisfying / enjoyable activities
– satisfying social interaction
– good coping skills
– good problem solving ability
– meaningful and achievable goals (as opposed to goals which overstretch one, which are more likely to be set by those with low self-esteem in the belief that extraordinary achievement will make them feel better about themselves)
– absence of time pressure / control over how one spends one’s time
– good planning ability (both long-term and short-term)
– NOT feeling the need to achieve great success for its own sake (although great success may come about as a by product of doing something which the person finds truly meaningful, rewarding and satisfying)
– ability to live in the present (rather than constantly dwelling on the past / worrying about the future)
– NOT clinging on to feelings of blame and bitterness
The Happiness Course :
Another psychologist interested in this field of study, Michael Fordyce, theorized that if we start to do the sort of things happy people do we can reduce our levels of depression, anxiety and stress and, hopefully, become happy ourselves. In other words, we need to start acting as if we’re happy, even (or especially) when we’re not.
He conducted research into this and the findings of that research supported his theory. As part of this research, he devised what he termed the happiness course which helped individuals who undertook it develop key skills intended to increase their levels of happiness, including :
– socializing more
– planning achievable and meaningful goals
– developing optimism
– learning to live in the present
– developing expressiveness
– developing spontaneity
The PERMA Model Of Happiness:
Martin Seligman, a leading expert in the field of positive psychology developed the PERMA model which he proposed contained the five major constituents that lead to happiness; these are :
POSITIVE EMOTION (optimism about past, present and future)
ENGAGEMENT – having activities to do in which one can fully absorb oneself
RELATIONSHIPS – having supportive, rewarding relationships
MEANING – having a meaningful purpose in life
ACCOMPLISHMENT – achieving goals
To find out much more about this model, visit Matin Seligman’s Positive Psychology site.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)Click here for reuse options!
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