Scientists once believed that trying to be happy was as futile as trying to be taller. But recent studies by Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, using surprisingly simple exercises, suggest that we can make ourselves happier not just for a day or two, but long term.
These two exercises were tested on more than 500 people. Both increased happiness and reduced depressive symptoms for the six months that researchers tracked the participants:
1. Think every night of three good things that happened that day, and analyze why they occurred. The idea is to focus on memories that might otherwise be clouded over by a busy, stressful day.
2. Pinpoint your five most prominent personal strengths by taking the Strengths Questionnaire on Seligman’s “Authentic Happiness” Web site, www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu.
Then, every day for a week, apply one or more of your strengths in a new way. By using your signature strengths, you’re more likely to become engaged in satisfying activities.
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