The happiness workout

If you're feeling miserable, medication might not be the answer for you.

Misery: it's everywhere these days. We are all popping happy pills like Smarties, checking ourselves into the Priory and stocking up on happiness books. But for every report telling us it is all down to our ever-longer working hours, additive-laden food and endless commutes, there is a growing body of scientific research suggesting that happiness is, quite literally, a state of mind.

"You have to decide to be happy," says Paul Jenner, author of Teach Yourself Happiness. "Most people think happiness is something that arrives by itself, like rain. But it isn't. Barring seriously depressed people, most westerners have plenty to be happy about, but they choose to focus on things they haven't got. It really is that simple.

"Scientific research is starting to back this idea up. Rather than happiness being something we earn through circumstances, it seems we can work at it in the same way we work our bodies at the gym, reaching beyond our "genetic set point", the predisposition to happiness (or unhappiness) we were born with.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, who has been researching happiness, there is converging evidence that some people are born happier than others, but that all of us can learn from their habits to raise our own happiness levels.

How do we do this? By adopting certain exercises - or "happiness strategies"- that Lyubomirsky, in her tests, found very effective in perking people up.

Source - Guardian

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