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Increasing Your Happiness

September 6th, 2016 · No Comments

This is a series of articles about increasing happiness from the perspective of positive psychology.  I hope you’ll follow along and try some of the exercises!

Image result for happiness

Positive psychology looks at ways to promote happiness and life satisfaction.  It differs from what has been the main focus of psychiatry and psychology, which has been to study and treat mental illness.

I believe this focus is very important for people with chronic pain.  I talk with my patients about 2 main ways to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life.  One, of course, is to decrease pain – lessen the negative in your life.  This website presents many, many ways to do that (here, here and here, for example).  Unfortunately for many of us, reaching lower pain levels may not be possible.  We’re stuck with chronic pain – sometimes at high levels.

So another main way to increase happiness and satisfaction is to focus on increasing the positive, rather than decreasing the negative.  Positive psychology does that.

Research in positive psychology tells us that what will make us happier is:

  • practicing gratitude
  • challenging our negative thoughts
  • increasing optimism
  • adding pleasures to our lives (even simple things like morning coffee and flowers on our desk)
  • increasing our enjoyment of these pleasures by using mindfulness, sharing with others and remembering enjoyable things

Our life satisfaction can be increased by:

  • using our “core strengths” every day
  • being part of something bigger to increase meaning in our lives

I invite you to take a very short happiness quiz to see where you are currently.   (It is from the Penn Authentic Happiness website.  You may need to register to access the quiz.)


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