Do you want to know the secret to happiness? According to a recent study, it stems from different things, depending on what age group you belong to. Dr. Erica Chadwick, a Victoria University researcher, believes that she may have found the secret to happiness--or at least she's figured out what makes other people stay happy.
She focused on what the research calls savoring strategies—ways by which people maintain their positive spirit. "I wanted to know not only what increased the feeling of happiness for a moment, but what made a difference to mental well-being over time. I also wanted to examine how savoring strategies changed from adolescence to adulthood."
Studying 400 young New Zealanders from the Bay of Plenty and 1,500 adults across New Zealand and overseas, Chadwick and her co-researchers were able to categorize the strategies into four categories--namely:
- physical actions like jumping up and down and giving a friend a high five to actively boost feelings of happiness,
- subtle actions like becoming more appreciative of the simpler things in life,
- self-focused actions that celebrate self-worth, and
- actions that dampen or keep happy feelings low-key.
Based on the results, older adults benefitted more from subtle actions like being mindful of the environment, while younger participants responded more to strategies involving self-worth. Whatever the age group the volunteers belonged to, however, it appeared that social connections with family and friends remained one of the most effective strategies for staying happy.
So the next time your college batchmate invites you out for lunch or your mom insists that you come home early from work to have dinner with the family, think of the positive effects this would have on both you and your loved ones.
(Photo by Kevin Hsu via Flickr Creative Commons)