7 Ways To Boost Your Happiness - According To Science
Finally! The Recipe for Happiness
Balance thoughts of past, present, and future for the key to well-being, new research says.
By Ian Landau
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FRIDAY, April 27, 2012 —Want the recipe for maximum happiness? Appreciate your past, delight in your present, and work toward your future goals — and, crucially, keep all three of these elements in balance.
That's the finding of a new study by psychologists at San Francisco State University, which says people who have this "balanced time perspective" are happier than those who don't.
In other words, you can't think your way out of a rut by simply reminiscing about happy memories of bygone times. Nor can you spend all your energy focusing on your immediate desires without sufficient planning for the days ahead. Following Fleetwood Mac's advice to "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow" isn't going to cut it either. Instead, think more on the lines of the Buddha, who said, "a well-balanced mind is very useful and we should try and have a stable mental state."
Adjusting Your Balance
This happiness formula stems from research performed by Dr. Ryan Howell, director of The Personality and Well-Being Lab at San Francisco State, and his colleagues. Howell and team recruited four separate study samples and participants filled out several surveys assessing their perspectives on time and their happiness. Across the four samples they found that the happiest people were "those with a past positive, present hedonistic, and future time perspective," they write in the study. As for the unhappiest, those were people "with a past negative and present fatalistic time perspective."
So what do you do if your time perspective is unbalanced? Fear not, because all hope is not lost. It is possible to change it, according to Dr. Philip Zimbardo, the Stanford University psychology professor emeritus who developed the idea of time perspective. In his 2008 bookThe Time Paradox, Zimbardo identified six common ways most people view time.
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