What Actually Makes for Happiness

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Counseling, Religion and spirituality | 0 comments

What Actually Makes for Happiness


Dear Engaged Couples—One of the happiest times in a person’s life is when that person is engaged and about to embark on a new life with someone they love and who loves them back.  Nothing new here, right?  However, lest you think that you have finally arrived, and that you and your lover will live together happily ever after (which I hope you will!) you may do well to read on about what actually makes for happiness.

In the 1960’s a psychologist named Martin Seligman created a new form of psychology called Positive Psychology.  He believed that instead of studying all that can go wrong with the human psyche— neuroses, psychoses, and the

Martin Seligman, the inventor of Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman, the inventor of Positive Psychology

like, perhaps psychologists should spend some time considering what is right with the human psyche.  By studying people who have their lives mostly together, he was able to determine what it is that makes people happy, stable, and for the most part, well-adjusted.  He wrote books about his discovery.  One of my favorites, which I use in premariatal counseling sessions is entitled Learned Optimism.

One of Martin Seligman’s followers in the field of Positive Psychology is Shawn Achor.  Maybe you have heard of him.  He has appeared on Ted Talks.  You can view his talk here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M.  You may also want to check out his book,  The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work.

In the last few years Shawn has traveled the world serving as a life coach for millions of people as he sheds light on what makes for happiness.

Quote on happiness from  Shawn Achor

Quote on happiness from Shawn Achor

It turns out that outside forces, like getting married, or winning the lottery, while they may definitely be positive experiences, don’t bring that happiness that everyone strives for.  Those experiences create in us a sense of euphoria, yes, but that euphoria is short lived.  It turns out that long term, deep seated happiness is mostly determined by the lens through which you view the world. In this you have a choice.  You can choose to view the world with suspicion, your critical antenna up, words of condemnation or cynicism on your tongue.  Or, you can choose to be grateful, for the cup of coffee offered, or the simple smile from a friend or stranger.  You can choose to forgive instead of holding grudges. You can make thank you a major part of your vocabulary.

I may sound like a pastor now, well, I am!  But you don’t have to be religious to practice happiness—to be open to the possibility that your life can be happier than it is at present.  There is always room for improvement!  And as you move toward greater happiness, you will be making the people around you happier, too—and that includes the love of your life!  Shawn Achor says that happiness is contagious and so it seems.  So, see, there doesn’t seem to be a downside to being happy!

A happy couple (and daughter) after the wedding

A happy couple (and daughter) after the wedding

In this Holiday season, while you are happily making plans for that big day in the future when you will become husband and wife, remember that happiness can be yours now, AND later down the road, too.  Have a Happy Holiday Season and then some!

Your Wedding Preacher for Hire

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