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7 New Strategies for Happiness in the New Year

Just in time for 2013! Looking for a New Year’s resolution? Feeling a holiday lull? Wanting to increase your happiness?

New research from the science of positive psychology has found a number of practical exercises you can do to boost your happiness and decrease your depression.

6 thoughts on “7 New Strategies for Happiness in the New Year

  • December 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    These are such boring strategies to follow. They are the same old things all the time – said over and over again. It even makes the author sound like some angel as if they live the perfect life. Sorry, I’d rather find my own happiness.

    • December 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Charlotte. There is some repetition because scientific studies need to be replicated. Years ago, self-help gurus made observations without any validation – most simply shared opinions and personal experiences – now science has emerged to verify or disconfirm these claims. In this vein, this article by Gander and colleagues and these exercises are groundbreaking…some of the exercises (e.g., one door closes…) have not previously been studied.
      Nope, I’m no angel but I hope that doesn’t preclude me from reporting on positive findings. There’s been mountains and mountains of work on misery already!

  • January 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    True, Ryan. I totally agree with you about the stories on misery. I’m so fed up of them too. I guess I don’t really know what I am looking for myself sometimes and I’m sure you feel the same way too. I hope I didn’t insult you by what I wrote first. I’m a bit fed up of science as well because it seems so full of faults but of course religion is the same for me anyway. I think we need to exclude both of them out of our lives for a while and take a break from them. We’re taking in too much information from both sides to the point where we no longer know what our own thoughts are. I’m the firmist believer in experience myself and experimentation and I think looking around our own homes and environment in particular is the best way to do this. I don’t even watch much tv anymore and would prefer to study a hobby I have which completely taps into another area of the mind. This does it for me. I like to go back in time before technology was even invented and find the discoveries I am making to be much healthier although I love writing on the computer. I find this to be one of the best inventions because at least you can type in an area that you are really interested in and you don’t have to have any sound either for a change. Being happy is about queitness an awful lot of the time because this is how you really discover what you love to do in life. I also find talking to people to be the happiest times of my life as well because you don’t know what way a conversation is going to go and you get to see all the different expressions on the other human beings face. I think there is nothing better in life than meeting people who can be a mirror of oneself as well and I think the gurus knew that as well so maybe they got it right rather than the way science does it today. Hope you write back Ryan.

    • January 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Dear Charlotte,
      I’d say you have it right by turning to your own experience and experimentation…that’s good use of your character strengths!…namely curiosity which has to do with exploration, novelty, and taking an interested, open-minded approach to the world.
      I don’t think we need to throw out science (or religion), but to approach it with fresh, inquisitive eyes. Indeed, there is plenty to criticize with both and also some to cherish and appreciate. One of my hopes with this blog is to draw people to new findings in positive psychology to which they can then individualize and make their own. For example, the most popular exercise in positive psychology is probably “use your signature strengths in new ways,” and while this phrase is often recited, the ways to individualize it to oneself and others are endless. Thus, if one experiments with using one’s best strengths, considers them across contexts, manages overuse and underuse, strives for balance, etc., this simple exercise will never get stale. In fact, we’re probably using our signature strengths a lot of the time outside of our awareness.
      You mention two keys to happiness that you already do – talking a lot to people and finding the quiet. It makes sense that you don’t need science to inform you that positive relationships are probably the biggest key to happiness and the practice of mindfulness meditation (this can often, but not always, involve the quiet) is also linked strongly with well-being. But, other people benefit from hearing this. In the meantime, you can continue to “model” those two good qualities about well-being.

  • February 14, 2013 at 2:47 am

    are you really sure that you should be quoting the seligman study give a recent study failed to replicate it?

    • February 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Actually, Wayne, the Seligman et al. (2005) study has been fully replicated. Check out Gander et al. (2012). I’m not aware of a single published study that failed to replicate it – you’ll have to offer the citation if one exists although I doubt it. There have been some partial replications by Mitchell and colleagues, by Mongrain and colleagues, some that are unpublished, and also others. It’s a strong intervention.


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