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Two clues for maintaining happiness

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The elusive pursuit of happiness just got a little easier.

“Although the Declaration of Independence upholds the right to pursue happiness, that search can be a never-ending quest,” said Kennon Sheldon, professor psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Previous research shows that an individual’s happiness can increase after major life changes, such as starting a new romantic relationship, but over time happiness tends to return to a previous level. Through our research, we developed a model to help people maintain higher levels of happiness derived from beneficial changes. The model consists of two major components: the need to keep having new and positive life-changing experiences and the need to keep appreciating what you already have and not want more too soon.”

The research group found that when people experienced an increase in happiness due to a positive change in their lives, about six weeks after that event, the happiness boost was gone for most of the surveyed participants. They then looked at the people whose boost lasted and were able to create a model predicting lasting happiness.

“The majority got used to the change that had made them happy in the first place,” Sheldon explained. “They stopped beign happy because they kept wanting more and raising their standards, or because they stopped having fresh positive experiences of the change, for example they stopped doing fun things with their new boyfriend and started wishing he was better looking. A few were able to appreciate what they had and to keep having new experiences. In the long term, those people tended to maintain their boost, rather than falling back where they started.”

Keep it fresh and appreciate it longer. A simple but not easy way to maintain happiness.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Missouri Columbia

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