What makes a happy person?

Positive psychology is a growing area of study. It seeks to understand what gives people’s lives meaning and explores ways to boost wellbeing. Happiness is at the centre of this field of study.

There are numerous definitions of happiness. Author of The How of Happiness and Positive psychology researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

So, in essence, happiness is associated with positive feelings and experiencing fulfilment in our lives. Which all sounds pretty simple and straight forward. But in a world full of uncertainty, deadlines, negative news, and busy schedules, this isn’t so easy to achieve.

A big question many of us likely ponder is what makes happy people happy?

In a 2017 study published in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, Lyubomirsky and her colleagues looked at how happy and unhappy people perceived their worlds and confirmed each group, do indeed, view their worlds differently.

They found that:
• Happy people tend to have a more positive outlook on life than unhappy people.
• Happy people are not as vulnerable to social comparison as unhappy people.
• Happy people tend to be satisfied choosing a good option when making decisions, while unhappy people seek to choose the best possible option and tend to experience more regret as a result.

Which group do you fall into? You may sit very firmly in one group, or you may have a mix. Regardless of where you sit, the good news is you can apply these findings in your life to boost your wellbeing.

Published on 17 November 2021

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