I am an emotion geek. And I am psyched for this movie to come out in June of 2015.
Dr. John Schinnerer
I am an emotion geek. And I am psyched for this movie to come out in June of 2015.
Dr. John Schinnerer
March 7, 2014
Happiness is related to greater success at work, more resiliency, less burnout and stress, more satisfying relationships, increased creativity, intelligence and flexibility of thought, improved immune system functioning and greater productivity. Happiness is more than a mere emotion; it is a habit we can improve with specific daily practices. Science is showing that some habits cultivate more happiness than others. One of the most powerful habits for happiness and life satisfaction is self-compassion, or self-acceptance. Yet this is also one of the most secret habits, one that is least likely to be practiced.
The non-profit organization, Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different, asked 5,000 people to rate themselves between 1 and 10 on ten habits. These ten habits have been shown in the latest scientific research as being instrumental to happiness and well-being.
The top ten habits, according to science, are…
Being kind to others (giving)
Being around others (relationships)
Appreciation of the world around you
Learning new things (approaching the world with curiosity)
Goals (having significant direction in life)
Resilience (finding ways to bounce back from challenge)
Positive emotions (awe, joy, love, contentment, relaxation, etc.)
Meaning (having a purpose in life)
Acceptance and self-compassion
Kindness is the Most Practiced Habit
Of these valid approaches to happiness and satisfaction, most of the participants report being kind to others most frequently. And this is the most reliable way that science knows of to boost your mood to a positive place…do something kind for someone else. And fortunately, many people report doing kind acts quite frequently (7.41 out of a possible 10).
Being around others, or relationships, was a close second. Participants were asked, How often do you put effort into the relationships that matter most to you? The average score was 7.36 out of 10. And 15% of people scored the maximum 10 out of 10.
Most excitingly, the survey also looked at which habits are most closely linked to people’s life satisfaction. All 10 habits have been shown in studies to be strongly linked to life satisfaction.
Self-compassion Trumps Them All
What you may NOT know is that self-compassion, or self-acceptance, is the habit that predicts happiness most strongly. Unfortunately, self-compassion is also the least frequently practiced habit. Self-compassion was the lowest average score from the 5,000 participants (average rating of 5.56 out of 10). Only 5% of people put themselves at a 10 on the self-compassion habit. Around one in five people (19%) scored an 8 or 9; Less than a third (30%) scored a 6 or 7; and almost half (46%) of people rated themselves at 5 or less. We are not taught to be self-compassionate. We are not taught to be self-accepting. I would argue most of us are socialized in the opposite way…win at all costs, strive to be the best, you are not enough, you are not worthy, never be satisfied. This must change. And there are proven practices to do just that.
But I digress. Let me return to the study findings.
Physical exercise is another highly rated happiness habit. Yet this one came up relatively low as well. The average answer to How often do you spend at least half an hour a day being active? was just 5.88 out of 10, with 45% of people rating themselves 5 or less.
Professor Karen Pine, a University of Hertfordshire psychologist and co-founder of Do Something Different, stated: “Practicing these habits really can boost our happiness. It’s great to see so many people regularly doing things to help others — and when we make others happy we tend to feel good ourselves too. This survey shows that practicing self-acceptance is one thing that could make the biggest difference to many people’s happiness. Exercise is also known to lift mood so if people want a simple, daily way to fee happier they should get into the habit of being more physically active too.”
Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness, reported: “Our society puts huge pressure on us to be successful and to constantly compare ourselves with others. This causes a great deal of unhappiness and anxiety. These findings remind us that if we can learn to be more accepting of ourselves as we really are, we’re likely to be much happier. The results also confirm us that our day-to-day habits have a much bigger impact on our happiness than we might imagine.”
So how can we practice the self-compassion habit?
Here are three positive actions shown in research by Kristin Neff from University of Texas, Austin, that people can take to increase their levels of self-compassion:
Key Survey Question Average score (Frequency of engaging in habit)
A final question posed was: Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
The average score was 6.49, compared to a national average of 6.34 reported in the UK National Values survey 2013.
For more info on happiness, well-being and positive psychology, check out my newest site at HowICanBeHappy.com.
To life, love and laughter,
Source: University of Hertfordshire. “Self-acceptance could be the key to a happier life, yet it’s the happy habit many people practice the least.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140307111016.htm>.
How Can I Be Happy? Refocus your attention on iPeople not your iPhone
Oct. 28, 2013 — The extent of our happiness has more to do with people and less to do with products according to a recent study at Lund University in Sweden.
Spend less time talking to your phone and more time talking to people. In an overly digital world, new studies continue to show the worth of individual, authentic relationships for boosting our collective happiness.
The world which used to be filled with cliques is now overflowing with clicks. We now have 3000 Facebook friends and 2000 Twitter followers but only 2 friends with whom we can go to the movies. More and more people are keeping up with others online – the ubiquitous Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And it may be negatively impacting our collective happiness.
In particular, Instagram has been linked to greater depression due to the upward social comparisons it fosters. You have seen it before… your friend uploads a photo of their great vacation in Bali. By comparison, your vacation to Tahoe pales to put it politely. So you retaliate by uploading the best Photoshopped pic of you in your sexy pirate costume with Johnny Depp at a crazy San Francisco Halloween party at the Fairmont. In turn, your friends are jealous and feel worth less as their Halloween experiences were mundane at best. And the online cycle of envy-fueling competition continues unabated.
‘It’s relationships that are most important, not material things,’ says Danilo Garcia, researcher in psychology at the Sahlgrenska Academy’s Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health. The analysis, which analyzed more than 1.5 million words, demonstrates that words like ‘father,’ grandmother’ and personal pronouns (e.g., you, me, us, her, him) more frequently appear with the Swedish word for happiness. On the other hand, words like ‘iPhone,’ ‘Twitter’ and ‘Google’ rarely appear with ‘happiness.’ ‘This doesn’t mean that material things make you unhappy, just that they don’t seem to come up in the same context as the word for happiness,’ says Danilo Garcia.
The study is a part of a larger research project on how people communicate the positive and negative experiences. It is believed that the word analysis reflects a large-scale perception among people as to what makes us happy. It is one more methodology for science to track down what makes us happier.
‘Just as the Beatles sang, most people understand that money can’t buy you happiness or love,’ says Danilo Garcia. ‘But even if we as individuals can understand the importance of close and warm relationships on a social level, it isn’t certain that everyone is aware that such relationships are actually necessary for our own personal happiness.’
The take home message: spend less time with Facebook and more time with friends.
The study: ‘A Collective Theory of Happiness: Words Related to the Word ‘Happiness’ in Swedish Online Newspapers’ was published in the scientific periodical Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Journal Reference: Danilo Garcia, Sverker Sikström. A Collective Theory of Happiness: Words Related to the Word ‘Happiness’ in Swedish Online Newspapers. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2013; 16 (6): 469 DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0535
Three Hours Is Enough to Help Prevent Mental Health Issues in Teens
Dr. John Schinnerer
Oct. 4, 2013
One in four 8 to 15 year olds have struggled with a mental health problem in the past year. Disorders, such as anxiety, depression and ADHD, are linked to a variety of negative behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, suicidal behaviors, cutting and violence towards others.
Now for the good news…researchers in Britain have found that 2 brief 90 minute group therapy sessions reduced the incidence of …
The study was led by Dr. Patricia Conrod of the University of Montreal and found that teacher led groups discussing mental health were quite effective. Teachers were trained to deliver interventions to high risk students and the outcomes were compared with students in other schools which did not receive the same training (the control group). The two 90-minute sessions taught students cognitive-behavioral tools for managing their thoughts, emotions and personality type. The sessions included real life “scenarios” shared by high risk youths within their small groups. The groups talked about thoughts, emotions and actions within the context of their particular type of personality. For example, situational triggers for anger, sadness or anxiety were shared with the guidance of the teacher. Then productive ways to manage such triggers were taught and discussed.
According to Dr. Conrod, “Our study shows that teacher delivered interventions that target specific risk factors for mental health problems can be immensely effective at reducing the incidence of depression, anxiety and conduct disorders in the long term.”
Nineteen schools in Greater London were involved in the study, which included a control group of schools in which students did not receive any interventions. Students were evaluated for their risk of developing mental health or substance abuse problems using a well-known personality scale. The scale measures different personality factors that are known to be correlated strongly with behavioral issues. For instance, a person with high degree of impulsivity is five times more likely to demonstrate extreme conduct problems within the next 18 months. Key traits focused on included impulsivity, hopelessness, anxiety sensitivity and sensation seeking.
In the two years that followed the interventions, students completed questionnaires every six months that enabled the researchers to establish the development of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, conduct problems and suicidal thoughts. The effects were clinically significant. “The interventions were run by trained educational professionals, suggesting that this brief intervention can be both effective and sustainable when run within the school system,” Conrod said. “We are now leading similar studys in 32 high schools in Montreal to further test the efficacy of this kind of program.”
Educators interested in the program can visit the project’s website at http://www.co-venture.ca
For a free PDF copy of my award-winning self-help book Guide to Self, visit Guide to Self, Inc. and click on the book icon on the top left of the screen.
Source: Université de Montréal (2013, October 3). Three hours is enough to help prevent mental health issues in teens.
Video #1 of How Can I Be Happy? Learn Positive Psychology w/ John Schinnerer Ph.D.
About Dr. John Schinnerer
John Schinnerer, Ph.D., an expert in positive psychology, is revolutionizing the way in which people make sense of the mind, behavior and emotion. In December of 2011, he was one of three emotion experts (along with Paul Ekman and Dacher Keltner) to consult with Pixar on a feature-length movie in which the main characters are emotions. Much of his time is spent in private practice teaching clients the latest ways to turn down the volume on negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and stress. He has developed a unique coaching methodology which combines the best aspects of entertainment, humor, positive psychology and emotional management techniques. His offices are in Danville, California. He graduated from U.C. Berkeley Summa Cum Laude with a Ph.D. in educational psychology. He has been an executive, speaker and coach for over 14 years. He hosted over 200 episodes of Guide To Self Radio, a daily prime time radio show, in the SF Bay Area. He wrote the award-winning book, ‘Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought,’ which is available at Amazon.com. His blog, Shrunken Mind, was recently recognized as one of the top 3 in positive psychology on the web (drjohnblog.guidetoself.com). His new video blog teaches people the latest ways to manage anger using positive psychology. (WebAngerManagement.com). He is currently working on a destination site to teach individuals paths to sustainable happiness via positive psychology and ongoing practice at HowICanBeHappy.com.