If you're happy and you know it

Laraine Bennett

Research studies have proven that 50% of our “happiness quotient” is actually hereditary (Time, January 17, 2005). That is, we are genetically hard-wired for a certain level of happiness:  are we naturally rather easy-going, or do we tend to be high-strung? Are we naturally rather optimistic about life, or do we tend to look on the dark side? These factors contribute to our perception of our life satisfaction.

We can win the lottery or be diagnosed with a devastating disease, and within a few months, we are as happy (or as sad) as we were before.  In fact, it turns out we are particularly bad at predicting what will make us happy:  I would be happy if only I had a new house! Or a new car! Or, if I were younger and smarter!

Or, not.  As it turns out, people who were laid off work,  survived a natural disaster, or who have a permanent physical handicap are just as happy as everyone else.  Sometimes more so.

So, what does this mean? If you’re a glass half empty person, it means you are sunk.

But for Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania and other “positive psychologists” (and those of you whose glass is half full), it means you’ve got 50% to work with!  In fact, research shows that children, faith, and friendships (not money, youth or IQ) do indeed make us more happy.  Dr. Seligman found that we can increase our happiness by being thankful, performing acts of kindness, and taking the time each day to write down three things that went well.  But there is something he recommends that results in the greatest—and most lasting—boost to our joy:  the “gratitude visit,” in which we write a note expressing our gratitude to someone who helped us, and then visit that person and read the letter.

This reminds of Saint Paul: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all” (Philippians 4: 4-5).

What do you like to do, to lift your spirits?

Topics: Depression , Friendship , Health , Personal Growth

Laraine Bennett co-authored, with her husband Art, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse and The Temperament God Gave You, published by Sophia Institute Press. Their new book, The Emotions God Gave You, is due Spring 2011. Please visit their website at http://temperaments.sophiainstitute.com/.

View all articles by Laraine Bennett

Ads by Google
(What's this?)


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google


Abortion (51)  Advent & Christmas (19)  Beauty (3)  Bioethics (4)  Books (55)  Church history (18)  Church teaching (36)  Contraception (29)  Culture (125)  Current Events (103)  Dating (15)  Death (7)  Depression (14)  Divorce (7)  Education (14)  Eucharist (4)  Exercise (3)  Faith (231)  Family (95)  Fashion (5)  Feminism (14)  Fertility (4)  Fitness (1)  Food (3)  Forgiveness (19)  Friendship (18)  Generosity (3)  Girl Scouts (2)  Grieving (1)  Health (23)  Home Management (17)  Humor (15)  Leadership (4)  Lent & Easter (13)  Liturgical Year (11)  Marian devotion (9)  Marriage (38)  Mature Years (5)  Meditations (17)  Mental illness (1)  Mercy (3)  Military Families (2)  Ministry (6)  Miscarriage (1)  Motherhood (61)  Movies (2)  Music (5)  Natural Family Planning (2)  Nutrition (4)  Parenting (46)  Personal Growth (107)  Politics (5)  Pope Francis (7)  Pornography (3)  Prayer (35)  Pro-Life (29)  Psychology (1)  Reflections (10)  Relationships (44)  Religious freedom (11)  Religious Vocation (1)  Saints (17)  Scripture (7)  Service (8)  Sexuality (20)  Single years (4)  Social justice (1)  Social Networking (5)  Special Needs (3)  Spirituality (3)  Suffering (15)  Suicide (1)  Travel (11)  United Nations (1)  Welcome (1)  Women in the Church (7)  Women's Health (21)  Workplace (13)  Writings of the Saints (12)  Young Women (41) 


Liturgical Calendar

January 30, 2015

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:26-34


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:26-34

Text only

Follow us: