Happiness fact 54: small stress events act like a happiness vaccine

As parents know instinctively, some babies are just born happy. But neuroscientists have also learned over the past decade that the brain is highly plastic. It rewires itself in response to experience, and that's especially true before the age of puberty.

One might naively assume, therefore, that negative experiences might destroy a happy personality--and if they're extreme and frequent enough, that might be true. Davidson has learned, however, that mild to moderate doses of negative experience are beneficial. (In animal studies, he compared groups that had been moderately stressed when young to those that never were and found the former better able to recover from stress as adults.

In human studies, in which deliberately inducing stress on kids would be unethical, he based his conclusions on self-reported stories of stressful childhoods.) The reason, he believes, is that stressful events give us practice at bouncing back from unpleasant emotions. They're like an exercise to strengthen our happiness muscles or a vaccination against melancholy.

Source: Health: The Biology of Joy. Scientists know plenty about depression. Now they are starting to understand the roots of positive emotion by Michael D. Lemonick Sunday, Jan. 09, 2005 The Time

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Happiness fact 53: three happiness genes

In the latest study with a large-scale effort involving more than 298,000 people, experts discovered three genetic variants for happiness, in which two variants might account for differences in depressive symptoms.

The main areas in which the genetic variants for happiness are expressed include the central nervous system, the adrenal glands and pancreatic system.

Source: The 'Happiness' Gene Has Been Discovered: Study, by R. Siva Kumar (writer@newseveryday.com) - 26 Apr '16

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Happiness fact 52: close relationships result in a happier, healthier life

The researchers followed 724 men, conducting questionnaires every two years, interviews at different intervals and collecting health information every five years. They looked at everything from their personalities, to drinking habits, and even skull shape and size.

What did make all the difference were the men's relationships with others. "Our men found that good, close relationships predicted not only that they would stay happier, but that they would stay physically healthier,"

Source: CBS News May 27, 2016, 5:26 PM What makes a happy, healthy life?

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Happiness fact 51: happier = 22% less risk of heart disease

In a 2010 study, researchers invited nearly 2,000 Canadians into the lab to talk about their anger and stress at work. Observers rated them on a scale of one to five for the extent to which they expressed positive emotions like joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment.

Ten years later, the researchers checked in with the participants to see how they were doing—and it turned out that the happier ones were less likely to have developed coronary heart disease. In fact, for each one-point increase in positive emotions they had expressed, their heart disease risk was 22 percent lower.

What are you waiting for? Check your happiness score!

Source: Six Ways Happiness Is Good for Your Health By Kira M. Newman | July 28, 2015

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Happiness fact 50: Keys to a happier, healthier life (a Hardward study)

Research suggests that certain personal attributes—whether inborn or shaped by positive life circumstances—help some people avoid or healthfully manage diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and depression. These include:

* Emotional vitality: a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement

* Optimism: the perspective that good things will happen, and that one’s actions account for the good things that occur in life

* Supportive networks of family and friends

* Being good at “self-regulation” i.e. bouncing back from stressful challenges and knowing that things will eventually look up again; choosing healthy behaviors such as physical activity and eating well; and avoiding risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, drinking alcohol to excess, and regular overeating...

Let's think about these four life happiness boosters as we look ahead into a new year.

Source: Sara Rimer, Madeline Drexler, Harvard School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/happiness-stress-heart-disease/
 
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Happiness fact 49: happiness = think daily of 3 things you are grateful for

Think of three things you are grateful for before you go to sleep, everyday, for 21 days. A study revealed that participants were significantly more optimistic, and further, the change wasn't temporary -- the positive mindset lasted even six months later. An added effect: Increasing your optimism can improve your productive energy by 31 percent!

Source: Shawn Achor Shawn, Author, "The Happiness Advantage", USA (2012)

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Happiness fact 48: emotional well-being rises by 15% on weekends

Happiness spikes on the weekend and drops when the work week begins. Call it ‘weekend bliss’ or the ‘Monday blues,'” said Cristobal Young, an assistant professor in sociology who co-authored the study with Chaeyoon Lim from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Emotional well-being rises by about 15% on weekends, the study shows. This reflects both more positive emotions like happiness and enjoyment, and fewer negative emotions like stress, anger and sadness. The findings are based on a study of 500,000 Americans in the Gallup Daily Poll and eight years of data from the American Time Use Survey.

Source: Cristobal Young, and Gallup Study (2014)

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Happiness fact 47: 66% of respondents said they’d prefer a 4-day workweek

In recent research led by LearnVest, a full two-thirds of respondents said they’d prefer a four-day workweek. Spending less time at work means having more time to devote to the activities and passions that really make you happy. You can hang out more with your family and friends, participate in your hobbies, get more exercise and good sleep.

Source: The American Dream, 2.0 How Americans Define Success and Making It in the U.S. Today learnvest.com, 2.000 participants

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Happiness fact 46: 86% of employees prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity

Harris Interactive HPOL conducted a nation-wide survey on behalf of Ask.com. They interviewed and canvassed more than 2,060 professionals ages 18 and up between March 26 and March 28 2014, to unearth the preferences and habits of U.S. office workers when it comes to an optimally productive environment.

They found that 86% of respondents prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity. This suggests that while group-oriented workplace perks like football and bean bag lounges that have become popular tools for unlocking creativity and boosting morale, don’t always drive efficiency.

Source: Harris Interactive HPOL (2014)

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Happiness fact 45: teens 'flow' 44% of the time when involved in sports, games

"Flow" is a state of intense concentration and productivity when time flies. Also known as "the zone" or "the groove", flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

U.S. teenagers experience flow about 13 percent of the time that they spend watching television, 34 percent of the time they do hobbies, and 44 percent of the time they are involved in sports and games.
Source: Finding Flow,' by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, US (1997)

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