The Science of happiness

The founding father of positive psychology Martin Seligman (1998) advocated fellow psychologist to contemplate the reasons for why people were happy? He furthermore stated that “psychology was half-baked……. the side of strength, the side of what we’re good at” (Address, Lincoln Summit, Sep.1999). He encompasses happiness as a compilation of pleasure, strengths and meaning referring to these concepts as the three dimensions of happiness. Seligman has opened a notion that happiness has a beginning and a journey that entails pleasure to strengths ultimately leading to meaning in life.

Most pioneering research in happiness has been conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky (2011) who looked upon the process in which an individual can access the positive emotion of happiness. She advocated the happiness sustainable model which is divided into three categories 50% set point genetics what you are born with, 10% circumstances and 40% intentional activities. Thus, accommodating the 40% intentional activities by introducing the notion of a person-activity fit diagnostic questionnaire rating 12 happiness strategies from a scale of 1-7 as natural, enjoyment, value, guilt and situation. The 12 happiness strategies are as followed counting your blessing, cultivating optimism, avoid overthinking/comparison, practice acts of kindness, nurturing relationships, conducting engaging activities, savouring life’s joys, committing to your goals, creating coping strategies, forgive, practice religion/spirituality and taking care of your body. These happiness strategies laid the foundation for self-help measures for individual to boast their level of wellbeing by utilising these happiness activities.

Collaboration of happiness strategies by Professional Practitioners
Health professional such as mental health counsellors, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurses and psychotherapist can really benefit by performing the person-activity fit diagnostic questionnaires by appropriately monitoring the patients progress in implementing the happiness strategies in collaboration to their normal course of action. In addition, occupational psychologist, middle management and team leaders of organisations could benefit by implementing happiness strategies to increase the workforce’s wellbeing.

Future of happiness

The happiness research institute has stated that Countries such as Bhutan have implemented happiness as a measure of progress and by the introducing the notion of Gross National Happiness replacing it for the notion of Gross National Productivity. The following indicators of happiness have been identified psychological well-being, health, time-use, education, cultural diversity/resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and living standards. Furthermore, countries such as the U.A.E have appointed happiness ministers to accomplish the notion of a happier country and other countries such as the UK, Thailand have followed suit by trailing out happiness projects. The importance of happiness is being acknowledged by some countries and I feel a lot of progress is needed to make happiness happen worldwide. New theorist such as Ryan Niemic (2017) have developed innovative ideas for happiness to happen. Propositioning ten exercises to accumulate optimal levels of happiness. The following positive psychology interventions are proposed to boast happiness, letter from the future, prosocial spending, signature strengths at work, positive mental time travel, three funny things, mental subtraction, temporal scarcity, one door closes, another door opens, building your lower character strengths and the gift of time. For optimal levels of happiness to be achieved a more interrelated approach is needed a multi interventional approach should be considered combining happiness strategies with strengths and positivity portfolio activities would activate more states of flourishing within humans. More research need to be conducted monitoring brain imaging to identify areas of the brain activated when experiences feeling of happiness are felt. Furthermore, monitoring brain activity by implementing ECG methods while conducting happiness strategies could result in some validating findings for happiness research.

About the author: Fizza Shah, BSc Psychology, PGcert in Applied Positive Psychology a MAPP student at Buckinghamshire New University. Her website is

Lyubomirsky, S (2010), The How of Happiness, A practical guide to Getting the life You Want, London, UK: Piatkus.

Lopez,S.J & Snyder,C,R, (2011) The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, Second edition, New York, United States of America, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.



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