June 13, 2024

Happiness Helps Relieve Stress

“Don’t worry, be happy” Bobby McFerrin

Dr. Martin Seligman and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania are researching aspects of Positive Psychology in part to discover what works to make ourselves happy. Seligman’s goal is to “increase the total tonnage of happiness in the world.”

Beginning research has identified three tasks that consistently make a difference in increasing happiness and diminishing depression in people’s lives over extended periods of time. The early winners are: a) The Gratitude Visit, b) Identifying Three Good Things, and c) Using Your Top Strengths.

The Gratitude Visit is an assignment that Seligman encouraged for sometime but only recently researched. It consists of considering someone (teacher, coach, relative, or friend) from your past that had a positive effect with you or was particularly kind to you, and you’ve never expressed to that person the gratitude you feel.

The first task is to write a letter that fully expresses gratitude to the person. The second step is to deliver the letter personally and read it to the person. The reading of the letters is often moving for both people.

Three months after the exercise the readers had substantial and lasting benefit of greater happiness and less depression as compared with a placebo group. Seligman did not research the receivers but many moving and grateful responses were reported.

Consider a person in your life with whom you might do a Gratitude Visit. Chances are it will be useful for both parties.
Seligman discusses The Gratitude Visit in this video:


You can be part of Dr. Seligman’s research by registering at: http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx

The Authentic Happiness website also lists a variety of free tests you can take to learn about yourself and how you compare with others

Next week’s blog will cover the results of Identifying Three Good Things.