Ed Diener’s FAQ on happiness is all kinds of awesome

Often you Google one thing and end up with something else and that’s how i discovered that Ed Diener (one of the world’s leading researchers in positive psychology) has an FAQ on Subjective Well-Being and that it is awesome!

It’s quite comprehensive (which is great) but it’s also nuanced and doesn’t try to give easy answers when there aren’t any.

Here’s an example:

Q: What is your advice to those who want to be happy?
A: As I have said repeatedly, I have no simple, easy answer that will make everyone happy. Some people with serious problems need to see a therapist and get professional help. And many of us have such deep-grained habits that it won’t be easy to change overnight. Plus, we all have our temperaments that will put some limits on how easy it for us to be happy.

So there is no magic elixir. Having said this, I think there are some steps people can take to insure that they are as happy as they can be (although nothing will make us happy every moment, fortunately).

First, we need good friends and family, and we may need to sacrifice to some extent to insure that we have intimate, loving relationships – people who care about us, and about whom we care deeply.

Second, we need to involve ourselves in activities – work, for example – that we enjoy and value. We are likely to be best at things we value and think are interesting.

Finally, we need to control how we look at the world. We need to train ourselves not to make a big deal of trivial little hassles, to learn to focus on the process of working toward our goals (not waiting to be happy until we achieve them), and to think about our blessings (making a habit of noticing the good things in our lives).

Or this one:

Q: Are there scientific theories of SWB?
A: There are lots of theories, but no powerful theory has emerged that can explain most of the data. There are theories about social comparison, about adaptation, and many other aspects of SWB, but each one of them seems to predict only some of the differences in happiness, and each of the theories thus far has been incompatible with at least some of the data. So the field is still in a theory-building stage.

Beware of researchers who think that they have a broad theory that can explain everything about SWB. Many theories (e.g., the idea that people are less happy if they are around others who have more than they do) have proven oversimplified, or correct only in limited circumstances.

There’s loads more. Go read the whole thing.


One thought on “Ed Diener’s FAQ on happiness is all kinds of awesome”

  1. Hi Alexander, I found your blog recently and I really value it. You do excellent work…and your material is exactly what I’m looking for at this point in my career…I’m satisfied with my job, but I know I can be more consistently happy. What stood out in this article is the idea of making deeper connections at work…I think that relationships are really one of the biggest keys to happiness.

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