What can we learn from the happiest people?

They really do take time to appreciate the little things.

Savoring small, positive moments throughout the day can make a big difference in overall happiness:

Flourishing—a state of optimal mental health—has been linked to a host of benefits for the individual and society, including fewer workdays lost and the lowest incidence of chronic physical conditions. The aim of this paper was to investigate whether and how routine activities promote flourishing. The authors proposed that flourishers thrive because they capitalize on the processes featured in the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, specifically by experiencing greater positive emotional reactivity to pleasant events and building more resources over time. To test these hypotheses, the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM) was administered to a prescreened community sample of adults (n = 208), and they were recontacted two to three months later. Results showed that relative to those who did not flourish or were depressed, people who flourish generally responded with bigger “boosts” in positive emotions in response to everyday, pleasant events (helping, interacting, playing, learning, spiritual activity), and this greater positive emotional reactivity, over time, predicted higher levels of two facets of the cognitive resource of mindfulness. In turn, these higher levels of mindfulness were positively associated with higher levels of flourishing at the end of study, controlling for initial levels of flourishing. These results suggest that the promotion of well-being may be fueled by small, yet consequential differences in individuals’ emotional experience of pleasant everyday events. Additionally, these results underscore the utility of the broaden-and-build theory in understanding the processes by which flourishing is promoted and provide support for a positive potentiation perspective.

Source: “A Tuesday in the Life of a Flourisher: The Role of Positive Emotional Reactivity in Optimal Mental Health” from Emotion, Volume 11, Issue 4, August 2011, Pages 938-950

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About Eric Barker