Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happiness 'Set Point'

According to Jonathan Haidt, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of the new book The Happiness Hypothesis:

"Happiness has a very weak relation to the events in our lives," Haidt says. "Your happiness level is determined mostly by the structure in your brain not by whether good or bad things happen to you. Negative events hurt or feel bad, but they are not usually as bad as we think and don't last as long as we think."

Happiness is an individual thing, he says, like a thermostat in our brains with a baseline that's predetermined by genetics. "We all move around, up or down, around our set point" depending on life events, he says. "The key to the psychology of happiness is to move to the upper range of your potential." He advises a three-point check-up on the state of personal relationships, the work environment and control over daily life, because improving those areas will boost happiness.

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