A month-long happiness study, conducted by researchers at the Catholic University of Leuven, reveals that ‘happiness tips’ positively impact our lives on both short and long-term.
The researchers hypothesized that happiness was genetically determined for 50% of people and that it depended on specific circumstances for another 10 %. What, they asked themselves, determines and influences the happiness of the remaining 40%?
A valid question.
The study, grounded in the field of positive psychology, the branch of psychology that in practical terms occupies itself with achieving and sustaining well-being, examined the impact of positive intervention on its participants. Tips for living happier lives? Yes, but do not be deceived.
No Bobby McFerrin
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
but rather Thomas Hardy
Some folks want their luck buttered.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
or Frédéric Chopin
Simplicity is the highest goal.
At the end of the study, 74% of the 7770 participants felt that these “happiness tips” had changed their outlook on life and 83% felt that these recommendations had encouraged them to question their everyday lives.
While the results of this study are being published, the students at the School of Dentistry at the UCL, the Catholic University of Louvain, are, in preparation of one of their classes ‘Bible et Santé‘ (Bible and Health) pondering over the question ‘Est-ce que le bonheur rend heureux?’ Does happiness make happy?
The question is impossible. Its timing unfortunate.
A noun, an adjective, and exams in the middle.
Still, the matter matters.
Action for Happiness, a movement of people committed to building a happier society, lists 10 keys to happier living, themed around interaction (giving, exercising, relating, appreciating, trying out) and attitudes (direction, resilience, emotion, acceptance and meaning).
But does happier living equate happiness? And if we live happier, are we then happy?
For those living in the Northern hemisphere it is autumn; already dark, sporadically wintry, not yet festive but with eminent cheer closely looming. Blustery days, the perfect time to visit our thoughtful spot.
“Think, think, think,” Winnie says.
But like Winnie, the world will soon be distracted.
By now the Virgin Mary is 34 weeks pregnant. Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, wherever they came from, must be well on their way to Bethlehem. Sinterklaas has meanwhile arrived from Spain, on his steamboat, with or without his heavily contested black helper, Zwarte Piet. Preparations for Giving Thanks are under way. A turkey will soon be granted a presidential pardon. Trees are being felled, balls polished. In 37 days we will usher in a new year.
December comes with tinsel and carols and candle light, talk of peace and hope and goodwill. Many of us will donate money, gifts or goods to a charity of our choice and we will spare a thought for those, less fortunate than us. We will reunite with friends and family, bury hatchets, dig them up again. We will drink and eat more, ponder less.
The season to be jolly right on our doorstep. But not just yet. There is still time. So while we temporarily ignore the seasonal suggestions for cost-saving gift shopping, for home-made decorations, for hassle free festive food and an overall stress-less Yuletide; while we push aside the steady stream of end-of-year lists and countdowns, there is still some time to ‘think, think, think’. And perhaps without tips and positive messages, maybe just in the quiet of a listless afternoon, against the backdrop of rustling leaves – it might even be a Windsday – we will find a moment of happiness.
For in autumn, we all know, we don’t mind the leaves that are leaving, it’s the leaves that are coming…