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Happiness is a State of Mind and Here’s How Get There, According to Five Studies

happiness is a state of mindHappiness is a state of mind and it can be an elusive one.

After all, life is tough. Home appliances malfunction. Thunderstorms spoil summer picnics in the park. Dream jobs are lost. Loved ones die. No one is protected from daily annoyances or tragedy.

Fortunately, despite life’s unexpected twists and turns, achieving blessed bliss is attainable.

The best way to get to a happiness state of mind is to practice gratitude. Being thankful can lead to happiness in the following five ways, according to research.

1. Heightened Hopefulness

Hopelessness certainly doesn’t lead to happiness. Rather, feeling hopeless about a particular situation, or the future in general, can cause you to experience sadness, depression, and fear.

A 2015 research study published in the Journal of Religion and Health suggests being grateful may heighten hopefulness, a prerequisite to happiness. The study reveals that those who are more thankful for who they are, and what they have, are more hopeful. The research also finds people who are more hopeful are also physically healthier.

2. Diminished Stress

Experiencing prolonged stress contributes to, or worsens, a number of health problems that can negatively impact your mood including:

  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

According to a 2009 research study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, thankfulness arouses your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the area of your brain that controls stress. While helping to combat stress, the study also reveals gratitude revs up the ventral tegmental section of your brain, which is responsible for producing the sense of pleasure.

3. Enhanced Self-Esteem

Because happiness is a state of mind, feeling confident in yourself is essential. In 2014, Lu Hung Chen and Chia-Huei Wu published a research study in the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology that examines whether gratitude enhances the self-esteem of athletes.

Upon conclusion of the two-part study, the researchers determine athletes having higher levels of gratitude improved their self-esteem over a six-month time period when they possessed higher emotional trust in their coaches.

4. Improved Resilience

People’s happiness is often derailed when bad things happen. This can especially be the case when you suffer from an illness. In 2003, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a research study conducted by Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough.

The study required 65 participants diagnosed with neuromuscular diseases to fill out a journal daily for three weeks. They were placed into a gratitude group or a control group.

The participants were encouraged to complete the daily activity during the early evening hours before they became sleepy. The results of the study suggest keeping a gratitude journal causes people with neuromuscular diseases to experience an improved sense of wellbeing and more positive moods.

5. Reduced Aggression

A 2012 research study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science examines the hypothesis that gratitude is associated with diminished aggression. The findings imply being thankful motivates people to display compassion and concern for others.

According to the study, gratitude also encourages prosocial behavior. Aggression, purposefully harming someone who wishes to avoid the harm, is the opposite of the motivation to improve the welfare of others. Unsurprisingly, the cross-sectional, longitudinal, experimental designs, and experience sampling evidence collected in the study shows that gratitude is linked to reduced aggression.

If your recent circumstances and mood have left you feeling like happiness is unachievable, don’t give up. Remember that happiness is a state of mind. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day to practice gratitude. Instead, strive to be thankful for the blessings each day brings.


Happiness is a State of Mind and Here’s How Get There, According to Five Studies

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2018). Happiness is a State of Mind and Here’s How Get There, According to Five Studies. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 31 Mar 2018
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