What Makes You Happy?

What makes you happy? Like Maria in A Sound of Music, I can list a few of my favorite things: hot cocoa on a cold winter’s day, brightly-colored birds twittering excitedly around a bird feeder, long walks along the river with my honey. . . When you’re feeling down, what gets you “up” again? What makes you happy?

Most people believe themselves to be pretty happy, overall. Research shows that “happier people are healthier, more successful, harder-working, caring, and more socially engaged.” (The Sunday Times Magazine, October 2, 2005; read the full article here.)

Research on what makes people happy has blossomed in the last several years as a new field of study called “Positive Psychology.” As its name implies, Positive Psychology focuses on the positive experiences in people’s lives as well as the specific character strengths – such as humor and honesty – that make happy people happy. Some of the goals of Positive Psychology are to support the development of happy, healthy families, schools, and communities.

Positive Psychology support groups are popping up all over, including right here in my town of Alexandria, VA. The Inner Arts Center sponsors a monthly group on the 3rd Saturday of every month. The group shares articles, books, and techniques exploring topics such as optimism, resilience, savoring, and awe. If you’re interested in bringing more happiness and joy into your life then you may want to look for a Positive Psychology support group in your own area.

And, as Maria von Trapp knew, simply remembering a few of your favorite things will bring a lilt to your step and a smile to your face – and then you won’t feel so bad!

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