Is it possible to shift levels of happiness over time?
As an organization dedicated to health, well-being, and good ole fashion R + D, we just had to know the answer. We invited Hopelab advisor and positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky to join us in the office to discuss the architecture of what sustainable happiness might look like.
Sonja, known for being a leading innovator in the study of happiness and well-being, is no stranger to the Hopelab community. Accompanied by two of her graduate students, Sonja who in the past has worked on Hopelab-funded research projects such as Kindness in the Blood: A randomized controlled trial of the gene regulatory impact of prosocial behavior, was here for an evening of wine, cheese, and most importantly, to teach us all how to become happier people. Hopelab invited guests from other health and well-being sectors to join our office for a night in with Sonja, who exposed her findings and provided insights on not just the how, but “the what” behind what makes individuals happy.
In Sonja’s book The How of Happiness she further explains how happiness enhancing strategies including random acts of kindness, practicing gratitude weekly, and mindfulness all contribute to long-lasting happiness. Not to mention her research has revealed happier people are in better physical health. Can you believe that? Happiness makes you a healthier person- both mentally and physically.
Her most influential discovery?
She states, “the most powerful way to become a happier person is by deliberately and actively becoming more generous to others.” The more generous we are, the happier we become. Which, when you think about it, the research makes sense- it pairs back to some of the most ancient nuggets of wisdom preached by both the Dalai Lama (whom she’s discussed her research with) as well as ancient proverbs and teachings from cultures all over the world.
Knowing how we can increase happiness can affect our work at Hopelab and is just one of the many reasons we believe in Sonja so much. She has dedicated her life to figuring out if happiness has a direct correlation with well being and health – two things that define Hopelab’s mission. We welcome her research and findings with open arms, and delight in the future of her work to come. And with that, we cheers to another successful and insightful Hopelab happy hour- or in this case, “happiness” hour.
Sonja is a professor at the University of California Riverside in Southern California. For more on her work and research, visit her website http://sonjalyubomirsky.com.