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Study Finds A Surprisingly Accurate Predictor Of Happiness

Study Finds A Surprisingly Accurate Predictor Of Happiness

Happiness. We all search for it and we may even spend money on the quest of attaining happiness. Nowadays, you will find countless resources that assert that happiness could be bought, found, etc. However, a recent study conducted at Harvard University finds several surprising and accurate predictors about happiness.

Sometimes when we see friends enjoying their vacation we would think they must be having a greater time than you sitting at home or working in the office. What’s surprising is that the study suggests that it does not matter exactly what you are doing that will predict happiness. According to the data gathered from the Harvard study group, the specific way you spend your day does not predict how happy you are. Rather, the predictive element to happiness is matching your thoughts to your action. To have a strong mental presence of what you are doing.

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How The Study Was Done

In order for the psychologists to study everyday happiness they had to catch their subjects in the act of feeling good or the opposite, feeling bad. Measuring the ingredients in a lab would be extremely difficult and undeniably hard to measure.

In this study the psychologists invested in a technique called experience sampling. Meaning, to interrupt people at random intervals and ask them what they are doing and what is on their mind. You can begin to assemble a specific portrait about someone when you do this multiple times a day for several days at a time.

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The participants in the study were surveyed via an iPhone app. The app would notify the participant to fill out out a quick questionnaire. The questionnaire would ask what they were doing and if they were thinking about what they were doing. If a participant answered that they were not thinking about what they were doing they would answer additional questions inquiring if what they were doing was enjoyable, neutral or not enjoyable.

The Results

The data gathered by the study reveals that we tend to be at our happiest when we are thinking about what we’re doing. For example, a person who is washing the dishes and thinking about washing the dishes is happier than a person who is washing the dishes and thinking of a future vacation.

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The Relationship between Focus and Happiness

Psychologists discovered a large portion of our thoughts, approximately half, are not related to what we are actually doing. Some may hope that a mind that wanders like this would bring us to a happier state of being, but the data gathered during the study suggests otherwise. Turns out, we are happiest when our thoughts and actions are perfectly in line with one another, even if it’s a simple task like taking the trash out.

The Prescription for Happiness:

Sure this sounds like an easy fix, but our mind tends to wander and it happens that our minds are wired to wander from time to time. Our brains prefer an arousal state of existence. If a task can be completed without going into too much thought, our brain figure out a specific ways to create an exciting alternative and send the mind wandering.

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Do know that the mind can be trained to wander less? It takes practice and dedication, but it can be done! You can engage in a meditation practice, work on being mindfully present throughout your day and work on being contentment.

Conclusion:

If you’re like most people and seek happiness, try practicing the art of matching your thoughts to your action. Think about what you’re doing and see how this impacts your overall happiness.

More by this author

Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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