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 21 Ways to Become Happier

12 Ways to a Happier World


This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Michael W. Fordyce, 12/14/44 - 01/24/11, whose pioneering work created the happiness movement we enjoy today.  Heaven and Earth are happier places because of you.  Thanks, and stay happy forever and ever.

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HAPPINESS BY KNOWING FREE WILL IS AN ILLUSION!

I explained how overcoming belief in free will can boost happiness on episode 7 Happiness and the Determinism vs. Free Will Question, 4-20-03, and 92 A Conversation about Happiness, Free Will and Determinism, 2-28-05

John Searle, the13th ranked post-1900 philosopher, says that our world overcoming the free will illusion "would be a bigger revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or Copernicus, or Newton, or Galileo, or Darwin -- it would alter our whole conception of our relation with the universe." 
 


Find out why at
my new show,
 Exploring the Illusion of Free Will

 

 

 

Who We Are
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Watch for free our over 30 "producer's choice" shows

What is Happiness?

   Why is Happiness so Important?

World's Happiest Countries

Happiness Facts

Happiness Benefits

The APACHE Method (Positive Adjectives Technique and List)

The Ortega Happiness Method

Other Ways of Becoming Happier

Happiness Increase Experiments

Top Happiness Researchers and Promoters

Dr. M. Fordyce

George Ortega's Happiness Skills Theory (2 drafts)

Happiness Books, Papers and Articles

Start a Happiness Show

Happiness-Increase Research and the Artifacts Dilemma

Happiness Research Still Needed

Proposals for Further Refuting Hedonic Adaptation Predictions

The Hey Bill Gates, Start an International Happiness Corporation Campaign

Happiness Increase International

George's Happy World Songs

Humankind's Age of Happiness

Happiness Quotes

100 Happiness Self-Statements

Outlines to Early The Happiness Show Episodes

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Key Happiness Facts
 

World's Happiest Countries:
 
1. Nigeria
 2. Mexico
 3. Venezuela
 4. El Salvador
 5. Puerto Rico
 (U.S. ranks 16th)

Countries with Highest Levels of Subjective Well-Being:
 
1. Puerto Rico
 2. Mexico
 3. Denmark
 4. Columbia
 5. Ireland

Click here for the complete ranking and more information

Americans consider happiness more important to them than money, moral goodness, and even going to Heaven.

Americans are, on average, only 69 percent happy.

The world population is, on average, less than 65 percent happy.

37 percent of the people on Forbes list of Wealthiest Americans are less happy than the average American.

At any given time, one forth of Americans are mildly depressed

14 percent of the nations on Earth are less than 50 percent happy.

Happiness Increase Experiments published in peer review journal have empirically demonstrated that individuals can be trained to be 25 percent happier through various training programs in from two to ten weeks.

All demographic variables combined, including age, sex, income, race, and education, are responsible for only 15 percent of the difference in happiness levels between individuals.

American Children feel happy 52 percent of the time, neutral 29 percent of the time, and unhappy 19 percent of the time.

Americans' personal income has increased more than 2 1/2 times over the last 50 years, but their happiness level has remained the same.

Americans earning more that $10 million annually are only slightly happier than average Americans.

(Click here for Citations and a Brief Paper on How our World Can Become Much Happier)



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Referenced Key Happiness Facts

 
 

Click here for a brief paper explaining how our world can become much happier.

 

World Happiest Countries; 1) Nigeria, 2) Mexico, 3) Venezuela, 4) El Salvador, 5) Puerto Rico 
                      (Click here for more rankings)
       
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3157570.stm 

Worlds Countries with the highest levels of Subjective Well-Being: 1) Puerto Rico, 2) Mexico, 3) Denmark, 4) Columbia, 5) Ireland
                    
(click here for the complete rankings)

Ronald Inglehart et al. (eds.) HUMAN BELIEFS AND VALUES:  A CROSS-CULTURAL SOURCEBOOK BASED ON THE 1999-2002 VALUES SURVEYS (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 2004).

Click here for a better understanding of the measurement distinction between "Happiness" and "Subjective Well-Being."

 

Americans consider happiness more important to them than money, moral goodness, and even going to Heaven.
King. L. A. & Napa, C. K. (1998). What makes a life good? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 156-165

 

Americans are, on average, only sixty-nine percent happy.

Seligman, M.E.P, 2002, Authentic Happiness, New York: Free Press

 

The World population is, on average, less than sixty-five percent happy.

World Values Survey, 1995-1997

 

Thrity-seven percent of the people on Forbes' list of Wealthiest Americans are less happy than the average American.

Diener, E. Horowitz, J. & Emmons, R. A. (1985).  Happiness of the very wealthy.  Social Indicators Research, 16, 263-274.

 

At any given time, one forth of Americans are mildly depressed

Seligman, M. E. P. (1994). What You Can Change and What You Canít. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

 

Fourteen percent of the nations on Earth are less than fifty percent happy.

Deiner E., Fujita F., & Sandvik E. (1994)  What subjective well-being researchers can tell emotion researchers about affect.  In N. Frijda (Ed.). Proceedings of the 8th meeting of the International Society for Research on Emotions (pp. 30-35), Storrs, CT: ISRE Publications

 

Happiness Increase Experiments published in peer review journal have empirically demonstrated that individuals can be trained to be twenty-five percent happier through various training programs in from two to ten weeks.

Fordyce, M. W. (1977).  Development of a program to increase happiness.  Journal of Counseling Psychology, 24, 511-521.

Lichter, S., Haye, K., & Kammann, R. (1980).  Increasing happiness through cognitive retraining.  New Zealand Psychologist, 9, 57-64.

Fordyce, M. W. (1983).  A Program to increase happiness: Further studies.  Journal of Counseling Psychology, 30, 483-498.

 

All demographic variables combined, including age, sex, income, race, and education, are responsible for only fifteen percent of the difference in happiness levels between individuals.

Argyle, M. (1999). Causes and correlates of happiness. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.). Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York; Russell Sage Foundation 

 

American Children feel happy fifty-two percent of the time, neutral twenty-nine percent of the time, and unhappy nineteen percent of the time.

Larson, R. (1989).  Daily emotional states as reported by children and adolescents. Child Development, 60.  1250-1260

 

Americans' personal income has increased more than two and a half times over the last fifty years, but their happiness level has remained the same.

Myers, D. G. (2000).  The funds, friends and faith of happy people. American Psychologist, 55, 56-67

 

Americans earning more that $10 million annually are only slightly happier than average Americans.

Deiner, E. Horowitz, J. & Emmons, R. A. (1985).  Happiness of the very wealthy.  Social Indicators Research, 16, 263-274.

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How Our World Can Become Happier
By George Ortega

 

Since the 1960's when such comprehensive research began, there have been over 3,000 published papers on SWB, and the number of publications is increasing exponentially (Veenhoven, in press). During these last forty years, however, less than a dozen published studies have attempted interventions to increase happiness (see Fava, 1999; Fava, Rafanelli, Cazzaro, Conti & Grandi, 1998; Fava & Ruini, 2003; Fordyce 1977, 1983; Lichter, Haye & Kammann, 1980; Sheldon, Kasser, Smith, & Share, 2002). {Note: Fava, 1999 and Fava et al., 1998 citations are from Sheldon, Lyubomirsky, & Schkade, 2003} This scarcity is highly anomalous considering that initial SWB increase experiments were highly successful, (Fordyce, 1977, 1983; Lichter, et al., 1980).

Happiness is commonly understood to be a fundamental goal in life. In fact, respondents in England have rated happiness as their most important component of Quality of Life; even more important to them than money, health, and sex (Skevington, MacArthur, & Somerset, 1997). However, the average American is only 69 percent happy, and happy only 54 percent of the time (Seligman, 2002). Also, at any given time, one in every four Americans is suffering from mild depression (Seligman, 1994). While the happiness level of over one quarter of the American population falls between 57 and 71 percent, and one twelfth are even less than 57 percent happy, one fifth of Americans are over 85 percent happy, (Andrews & Withey, 1976) suggesting that much greater happiness is also quite possible for less happy individuals.

While we might be inclined to attribute this greater happiness to greater wealth, or related advantages, Diener, Horwitz, and Emmons (1985) found that Americans with a net worth of over $125 million were only trivially happier than randomly selected controls, and that 37 percent of the people on Forbes' list of wealthiest Americans were less happy than the average American. Also, personal wealth in the U.S. has more than doubled since W.W.II, however, Americans are no happier today than they were in 1945 (Myers, 2000). In fact, Nigeria is now the happiest nation in the world, followed by Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico, with the U.S. ranked 16th. (World Values Study Group, in press).

There are three basic reasons why happiness increase research has been neglected. Firstly, hedonic adaptation theory (Headey and Wearing, 1989; Frederick & Lowenstein, 1999) and genetic "set point" studies (Lykken & Tellegen 1996) have predicted that long-term happiness increase is not possible. However, recent demographic data coauthored by the leading SWB researcher, Ed Diener, (Lucas, Clark, Georgellis, & Diener, 2003) has shown long-term happiness increase to be a matter of fact. Secondly, SWB has historically been greatly undervalued by psychology, and clinical psychology in particular.

For example, published psychological articles on negative emotions outnumber those on positive emotions by a ratio of 17 to 1 (Myers, & Diener, 1995), and SWB is generally not used as an outcome variable in therapy effectiveness studies, (Veenhoven, in press). Thirdly, funding happiness increase research has been difficult because there has been no industry wide vested interest in these findings, as there has been in, for example, research to demonstrate the effectiveness of anti-depressant medications, (R. Veenhoven, personal communication, June 3, 2003).

The psychologist most actively promoting happiness increase applications is former American Psychological Association president, Martin E. P. Seligman who last year published a book on happiness (Seligman, 2002), and currently offers extensive happiness coaching instruction through his website -  http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/ . Giovanni Fava, Sonja Lyubomirsky and Ken Sheldon are the researchers most involved in happiness increase experimentation. "Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change" by Sheldon, Lyubomirsky, & Schkade (Manuscript submitted for publication), provides a general review of happiness increase research.

Happiness is supremely important to us, yet we marginally succeed in achieving it largely because we seek it in many ways that are either totally ineffective, or just slightly effective (For reviews, see Argyle, 2001; Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999; Myers, 1992). When, however, over the course of four weeks, Fordyce (1977) instructed subjects in 14 fundamentals of happiness, and Lichter, Haye & Kammann (1980) asked some subjects to discuss happiness-relevant issues, and others to recite happiness increasing affirmations for ten minutes each morning, all groups experienced an average 25 percent happiness boost.

Also, Fordyce (1983) measured subjects' SWB 9-18 months after 10 weeks of training and found them 12 percent happier than controls, demonstrating the lasting effectiveness of his happiness increase course. These and several other successful happiness increase methodologies could be used in happiness training programs, however, because this body of research is so small, it has been largely ignored by business and government (Notable exceptions are Bhutan, which has officially declared itself more concerned with its citizens' happiness than the country's GDP (Bond, 2003), and Great Britain, who recently commissioned and published an extensive report on why and how their government should develop policies designed to raise the SWB level of its citizens.

A more extensive and authoritative body of happiness increase experiments would likely encourage businesses to take notice and offer happiness increase instruction as a product, in a manner similar to how health spas offer fitness as a product, and governments to use published methodologies as blueprints by which to develop happiness increase courses for school curriculums. These two vehicles alone could produce substantial and lasting happiness increases for many millions of individuals throughout the world.   

 

Andrews, F. M., & Withey, S. B. (1976). Social indicators of well-being. New York: Plenum Press.

Argyle, M. (2001). The Psychology of Happiness. (Rev. ed), East Sussex, Great Britain: Routledge.

Bond, M. (2003, October 4). The Pursuit of Happiness, New Scientist, 179, 40-43

Diener, E., Horowitz, J., & Emmons, R. A. (1985). Happiness of the very wealthy. Social Indicators Research, 16, 263-274.

Diener, E., Suh, M., Lucas, E. & Smith, H. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress, Psychological Bulletin, 125, (2), 276-302.

Fava. G (1999). Well-being therapy: Conceptual and technical issues. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 68, 171-179.

Fava, G. A., Rafanelli, C., Cazzaro, M., Conti, S., & Grandi, S. (1998). Well-being therapy: A novel psychotherapeutic approach for residual symptoms of affective disorders. Psychological Medicine, 28, 475-480.

Fava, G. A. & Ruini, C. (2003). Development and characteristics of a well-being enhancing psychotherapeutic strategy: well-being therapy. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 34, 45-63.

Fordyce, M. W. (1977). Development of a program to increase happiness. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 24, 511-521.

Fordyce, M. W. (1983). A Program to increase happiness: Further studies. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 30, 483-498.

Frederic, S., & Lowenstein, G. (1999). Hedonic adaptation. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 302-329). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Headey, B., & Wearing, A. (1989). Personality, life events, and subjective well-being: Toward a dynamic equilibrium model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 731-739.

Lucas, R. E., Clark, A. E., Georgellis, Y., & Diener, E. (2003). Reexamining adaptation and the set point model of happiness: Reactions to changes in marital status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84 (3), 527-539.

Lichter, S., Haye, K., & Kamman, R. (1980). Increasing happiness through cognitive retraining. New Zealand Psychologist, 9, 57-64.

Lykken, D., & Tellegen, A. (1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological Science, 7, 186-189.

Myers, D. G. (1992). The Pursuit of Happiness. New York: Avon Books.

Myers, D. (2002). The funds, friends, and faith of happy people. American Psychologist, 55, 56-67.

Myers, D. G., & Diener, E. (1995). Who is Happy. Psychological Science, 6, (1), 12-19.

Reich, J. W., & Zautra, A. (1981). Life events and personal Causation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 1002-1012.

Sheldon, K. M., Kasser, T., Smith, K., & Share, T. (2002). Personal goals and psychological growth: Testing an intervention to enhance goal attainment and personality integration. Journal of Personality, 70, 5-31.

Sheldon, K. S., Lyubomirsky, S., & Schkade. (2003) Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Veenhoven, R. (in press), The greatest happiness principle; happiness as an aim public policy in Linley, A. and Joseph, S. (Eds.) Positive Psychology in Practice. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

World Values Study Group (in press), World Values Surveys, 1999-2001, Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research.
 

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