Thursday, 7 August 2008

Human Wellbeing

I went to a short seminar last week on Human Wellbeing, what does it mean to be healthy in mind, body and spirit? It was rather good. Interesting. Three presentations by three university professors, a doctor, a psychologist and a poet.

There have been studies done on happiness and the measuring of it. Who is happiest and why? Does it come down to genes and your genetic makeup, twins have been studied in this regard. Does happiness depend on the way you were brought up, situational happiness? Are the happiest people those who are "dispositionally" happy? A numerical value has been used to measure happiness, the "correlation" ????? And although I was not paying much retentive attention to this part, what was interesting were the following points that came out of that research.

People who report being happy pay attention to the following things:

To attain happiness they choose what to invest in - the purchase of material things does not give happiness, the investment in a holiday, for instance, is a much better proposition as it is possible to remember it, mull over it, think about it fondly, talk about it, etc. It is an experience rather than a thing. It is a better investment of money and time.

They choose an interpretation of events. Bad things can happen but it is how we choose to think of them that determines how well they are dealt with and how happy or unhappy they make us.

By choosing to forgive transgressions (I hate this word, it smacks of religion and I am very irreligious!), this too make us happier. By giving up the anger, it is possible to move on and deal with that situation better. This has a direct impact on myself to do with my daughter. It tells me to just move right along and not harbour any resentment or hurt over this breach. It also is what I knowingly did after my break-up with my ex. I knew I was handling it well and one of my favourite sayings was/is "It's not what happens to you, it is how you choose to deal with it" or something similar - I am going to have to go and look that one back up again. We need to choose to savour the good stuff, which is a known fact of the positive impact of gratitude. This fits in rather well with my "counting my blessings" of the last blog entry and certainly set me up for the day.

Also, another point was to make a decision that is good enough, it doesn't have to be a perfect decision. Just one that is good enough to live with and work with. And people who have low levels of introspection are happier. I know when I am doing a whole load of navel-gazing I am not a happy bunny at all. Once all the thinking is done though, and the decision is made, whatever it is, is when happiness comes. Sometimes I get stuck in introspection for longer than is healthy, certainly. The Goffman is very good at getting me out of that loop. Human beings are happiest when they have a sense of purpose and satisfaction. No doubt this is where we fell prey to the priests! Anyway, all of the above came from the psychologist. And here is the link to the paper it was taken from:
http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~sonja/papers/ATL2003.pdf

2 comments:

Flibbertigibbet said...

Hey! I'm finally getting to catch up a bit. Things have been manic here. I had no idea that parenting was going to be two-fold, they parent you, then you parent them. No-one told me!

Anyway, what I've always believed is the human notion of "If & When Happiness".
I'll be happy when I lose weight.
I'll be happy if I find a partner.
I'll be happy when I get a new house/car/fireplace/bar of chocolate.
Whatever happened to being happy just as things are? We have to limit it. Then when we get the weight loss/partner/house, we move the goal and make new demands on ourselves.

I prefer to believe we can be happy and just get happier if and when these other things happen.

Carrie said...

Hmmm, I think that if you are not happy, then changes need to be made..... I think. If I am not happy about something, I bear with it for a while to see if it changes, then I do a lot of thinking...driving myself and everyone around me, mad at this point, I am sure, then if I am still unhappy, changes must be made! Big or small, change something. That is my philosophy for a happier life I am never afraid to admit I was wrong and I am always happy to learn new stuff. "Stuff" being personal discoveries, new knowledge, new awarenesses, new ways of thinking. Its all good and all essential to a happier life. And whatever your religious beliefs, we only get one go at this.....however many lives you think you are going to get or not.....we only get one go at this....so, make it a good one. We all deserve to be happy. Oooh, I sound quite preachy this morning!