How to be Happy? Just Try
The pursuit of happiness has long been a focus of discussion, poetry, music, art along with nearly every human facet including scientific research.
For some, happiness is something that seems entirely unattainable while others claim to be constantly happy. Nearly everyone you speak to will have a different view on happiness and how to achieve it.
At some point in most peoples lives they have wondered how they can be happy or happier.
Research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology considered if simply trying to be happier could actually make you happier:
The two studies described here experimentally test the hypothesis that explicit intentions to increase in happiness results in higher, rather than lower happiness, as indicated by participants’ mood state (Study 1) as well as their subjective happiness (Study 2).
In the first study devised by the researchers participants listened to either positive music or an ambiguous piece of music, participants were then asked ‘How did this music impact your mood?’.
In the second study participants attended 5 sessions to listen to music from a variety of genres. The researchers assessed the participants well-being at the first and last session. (Ferguson & Sheldon, 2013)
Participants in both studies were either encouraged to actively try and elevate their positive mood or to avoid exerting a conscious effort to increase their mood.
Researchers found that participants who tried to feel happier reported the highest level of positive mood when they listened to the positive music.
This demonstrates that the combination of intentions and proper method (listening to positive music) is important in raising positive mood.
Researchers also found that intentionally trying to become happier resulted in increased happiness over the 2 week study period.
The current study suggests that rather than interfering with one’s happiness, the ‘will’ to become happier, may be important if one is to benefit from positive activities.
While on a practical level measuring happiness can be difficult and many factors probably effect happiness at any one time, the results of this study suggest that simple techniques to increase your happiness such as listening to happy music while actively ‘willing’ yourself to become happy may evoke positive emotions and influence well-being.