Essay 8

Subject: 
Teacher: 
Rubber Band: 
Question: 

8. Attempts to boost happiness are often short-lived. The challenge lies in sustaining happiness. Describe, in detail, the five hows or keys behind sustainable well-being.

Answer: 

How of Happines: pg 257-281

Five steps of sustaining happiness:

1. The First How: Positive Emotion (pg 258)
Some might see positive experiences a fleeting and trivial, but as you incorporate positive experiences in to your day, you begin to adapt your mind and body to a position that allows you to see life differently. Over time, these positive experiences build up to become a barrier against negative thought & emotion, an endorsement toward happiness, and can change the way you understand your reality (in a more healthful positive light). "An avalanche of studies has shown that happy moods, no matter the source, lead people to be more productive, more likable, more active, more healthy, more friendly, more helpful, more resilient, and more creative."
* Positive Emotions and Depression (pg 261)
Positive emotions and positive experiences are an excellent combatant for depression. Not only will positivity help in the cure for depression, but it can even thwart the onset of depression in the first place!
* Positive Emotions Versus Life Meaning (pg 264)
Positive experiences and emotion are just as important no matter what triggers them. "So don't pooh-pooh pleasure. You can find pleasure in a silly TV show or in being wholly absorbed in a lecture on astrophysics."
* Whence the Source (pg 265)
"I confess now that I did gloss over something. The source of the happy moments does in fact matter, for it influences the ability of the experience to be self-sustaining ... When the source of positive emotion is yourself (as opposed to a televised World Cup game or chocolate or a glass of wine), it can continue to yield pleasure and make you happy. When the source of positive emotion is yourself, it is renewable."

2. The Second How: Optimal Timing and Variety (pg 266)
"Knowing what to do with [positivity boosters] is an important step, but you also need to know precisely how to do it."
* Timing Is Important (pg 266)
"The bottom line is that for happiness activities, as for humor, timing is important ... [accomplish this] Through self-experimentation."
* Variety, the Spice of Life (pg 268)
"One day you might leave an extra-large tip for a weary waiter; another day you might visit a grieving friend; the following week you might do the dishes even when it's not your turn." Variety is important because redundant practices can weaken the effectiveness of happiness-boosting activities.

3. The Third How: Social Support (pg 270)
"Social support partners can offer informational support (e.g., suggesting a new way to show gratitude or cautioning that your current approach might lead you to get stuck), tangible support (e.g., giving you rides to the gym), and emotional support (e.g., providing reassurance, solace, and inspiration)."
* The Research Evidence (pg 272)
"Participants undertook a foru-month-long weight loss program"
Stats for those who DID NOT have social support:
76% completed it.
24% maintained weight loss for an entire six months.
Stats for those who DID have social support:
95% completed it.
66% maintained their weight loss and kept for of it off.

4. The Fourth How: Motivation, Effort, and Commitment (pg 273)
"1. You must resolve to undertake a program to become happier
2. You must learn what you need to do.
3. You must put weekly or even daily effort into it.
4. You must commit to the goal for a long period of time, possibly for the rest of your life."

* The Wonders of Motivated and Committed Effort (pg 274)
Committing to being more positive is important. With it, your chances of positivity go up.
* What if you're too busy? (pg 276)
"When it comes to the important things of life, are we really to busy? ... When you fell in love, did you set your relationship aside to make more time for your job? ... I hope not."
* What if You Backslide? (pg 276)
"There will surely be times when your commitment wavers ... know that circumstances will arise ... In any case, the point for you to remember is that when you lose motivation to continue engaging in your happiness activity ... you do not need to feel that all is lost ... the right combination of optimal timing and optimal variety ... can be effective for the vast majority of people."
* Recommit Today . . . and Tomorrow (pg 277)
"Renew your commitment every day"

5. The Fifth How: Habit (pg. 277)
The dedication so far may be a bit overwhelming. Have no fear! Habit makes it easier over time. It may take a big push at first, but the momentum of a consistent habit will help to carry most of the weight once you get going.
* How do habits form? (pg 278)
"Habits form with repetition and practice ... (such as going jogging in the morning)"
* But aren't Habits Hard to Establish? (pg 279)
In the beginning they can be (e.g., quitting smoking) and most likely you will have to pick your self up from discouragement. After potentially trying several times to set a habit, you'll eventually get there and feel good about it.
* Two Kinds of Habit (pg. 280)
"Be wary of the wrong kind of habit!" Try to make habits work unconsciously and automatically. Doing something over and over will eventually get boring.