Too Much Happiness? Science Shows That Doing Too Much Of This Popular Happiness Technique Is Counterproductive

Too Much Happiness? Science Shows That Doing Too Much Of This Popular Happiness Technique Is Counterproductive

Most people say they’d love to be happier.  However, some of what people think they need to be happy such as money and possessions are only shown to increase happiness for a short time (this study is a good example of this).

Others try exercises that many believe will make you happier.  Some of these techniques are validated by scientific research.  Some are not.

But few are aware that a powerful two-minute technique that’s proven to make you happier can be done to the point that it’s counterproductive.

So what is this 2-minute technique?

It’s a simple gratitude exercise.

You’ve probably heard about this kind of exercise before.  One way of doing it is to merely list 3-5 things you are grateful for.  But you may not have heard one simple fact about it that can allow you to get much more out of it.

Sonia Lyubomirsky, a prominent research psychologist, and her colleagues did an interesting study that shows us how to get the maximum out of our two minutes.

They had one group of people write down three things they were grateful for three times a week and another group of volunteers wrote what they were grateful for only once a week.

Most people thought that doing this exercise more often would produce more happiness.

It did not.

Those who only did the exercise once a week were much happier than those that did it three times.

The explanation.

That if you do the exercise too often, you get used to it and it no longer has as much impact on you.

So to be happier try making a weekly practice of writing down three things you are grateful for once a week.  That’s all it takes to improve your happiness.

And if you really want to know why you should make happiness a top priority consider reading Barbara Fredrickson’s book Positivity. In this book she tells you how happiness builds many of your internal resources.  You become more creative, smarter, more energized and behave better.  The list goes on and on.

She also tells you a very powerful principle regarding a happiness “tipping point” that we all have.  Once you get enough happiness in your life some startling things begin to happen.

I’ll tell you more about this in my next post tomorrow.

Meanwhile, will you try expressing your gratitude in writing once this week?

Consider beginning your weekly gratitude practice today by leaving me a comment about one of the things you’re grateful for below.

References:

Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture Of Sustainable Change

http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~sonja/papers/LSS2005.pdf

Lottery Winners And Accident Victims: Is Happiness Relative?

http://education.ucsb.edu/janeconoley/ed197/documents/brickman_lotterywinnersandaccidentvictims.pdf

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