How’s Life at Home?

How’s Life at Home? New Evidence on Marriage and the Set Point for Happiness
John F. Helliwell, Shawn Grover
NBER Working Paper No. 20794
December 2014
http://www.nber.org/papers/w20794

Subjective well-being research has often found that marriage is positively correlated with well-being. Some have argued that this correlation may be result of happier people being more likely to marry. Others have presented evidence suggesting that the well-being benefits of marriage are short-lasting. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey, we control individual pre-marital well-being levels and find that the married are still more satisfied, suggesting a causal effect, even after full allowance is made for selection effects. Using new data from the United Kingdom’s Annual Population Survey, we find that the married have a less deep U-shape in life satisfaction across age groups than do the unmarried, indicating that marriage may help ease the causes of the mid-life dip in life satisfaction and that the benefits of marriage are unlikely to be short-lived. We explore friendship as a mechanism which could help explain a causal relationship between marriage and life satisfaction, and find that well-being effects of marriage are about twice as large for those whose spouse is also their best friend.

journalistic version:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/upshot/study-finds-more-reasons-to-get-and-stay-married.html

Equation to predict happiness

Equation to predict happiness
5 August 2014
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0814/040814_happiness_equation

The model was then tested on 18,420 participants in the game ‘What makes me happy?’ in a smartphone app developed at UCL called ‘The Great Brain Experiment’ (www.thegreatbrainexperiment.com).
[https://franzcalvo.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/the-great-brain-experiment]
Scientists were surprised to find that the same equation could be used to predict how happy subjects would be while they played the smartphone game, even though subjects could win only points and not money.

how important expectations are in determining happiness. In real-world situations, the rewards associated with life decisions such as starting a new job or getting married are often not realized for a long time, and our results suggest expectations related to these decisions, good and bad, have a big effect on happiness.

It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower.
We find that there is some truth to this: lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.
However, expectations also affect happiness even before we learn the outcome of a decision.
If you have plans to meet a friend at your favorite restaurant, those positive expectations may increase your happiness as soon as you make the plan.

original paper:
A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being
PNAS August 19, 2014   vol. 111  no. 33  12252-12257
Robb B. Rutledgea,Nikolina Skandalia, Peter Dayanc, and Raymond J. Dolan
http://www.pnas.org/content/111/33/12252.abstract
Significance:
A common question in the social science of well-being asks, “How happy do you feel on a scale of 0 to 10?” Responses are often related to life circumstances, including wealth. By asking people about their feelings as they go about their lives, ongoing happiness and life events have been linked, but the neural mechanisms underlying this relationship are unknown. To investigate it, we presented subjects with a decision-making task involving monetary gains and losses and repeatedly asked them to report their momentary happiness. We built a computational model in which happiness reports were construed as an emotional reactivity to recent rewards and expectations. Using functional MRI, we demonstrated that neural signals during task events account for changes in happiness.

related:
https://franzcalvo.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/crowdsourcing-for-cognitive-science

If we just directed our attention towards it

When are humans most happy?

An App On The Search For The Secret To Happiness
February 15, 2014
http://www.npr.org/2014/02/15/277385186/an-app-on-the-search-for-the-secret-to-happiness

social scientist Matt Killingsworth, who has developed the Happy App.

KILLINGSWORTH: So when I look across all the different activities that people engage in, they are universally happier when they’re fully engaged in that activity and not mind wandering, no matter what they’re doing.

RAZ: Even when you’re doing something you dislike like your morning commute, it’s better when you are in the moment, when your mind isn’t wandering.

KILLINGSWORTH: So we spend time worrying or having repetitive thoughts or escaping or disengaging from things we could really enjoy if we just directed our attention towards it.

RAZ: How do you do that? Like, how do you get to that place?

KILLINGSWORTH: That’s the million-dollar question. And I don’t know the answer.

The Emotional Life of Your Brain

Express gratitude

The Emotional Life of Your Brain
Forbes. July 07, 2014
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2014/07/07/sleep-switch-for-consciousness-may-have-been-accidentally-found-in-the-brain

Our personalities, thought patterns and emotional responses are wired into our brains, says Richard Davidson, Ph.D., author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain, but you can change your brain. Here are several exercises that will help rewire the neural pathways to help you think more positively, become more self-aware, focus better, understand social cues, ease your emotional triggers and grow more resilient:

1. Make Your Home And Workspace Optimistic

2. Express Gratitude
Davidson says expressing gratitude regularly will help you feel more optimistic. Make the effort to look someone in the eyes and say “thank you,” and keep a journal to daily remind yourself of what’s good in your life.

3. Compliment others
By finding and making opportunities to compliment others, you’ll train your brain to see the good in people, in life and in yourself, says Davidson.

4. Pay Attention To Body Language
If you’d like to become more socially intuitive and good at dealing with people, Davidson suggests making an effort to watch people’s body language while in public and try to guess what emotions they are expressing. Then, start to take notice of friends and colleague’s facial cues and body language and how it corresponds to their tone of voice.

5. Identify Emotional Triggers
If you’d like to be less emotionally reactive and more tuned in to context, Davidson advises regularly making a list of the specific events or behaviors that triggered your response. Then spend about 15 minutes thinking about these behaviors while breathing deeply until you feel comfortable and more relaxed.

6. Do A Mindfulness Meditation
a new book on the topic:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/07/12/330680160/searching-for-stress-relief-try-feeling-your-breath

==========================

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/06/07/paper-pulls-obituary-viral-reaction

Send thank-you notes to those who help you along the way
13 June 2019
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01879-z

gratitude123

Beyond the hedonic treadmill model (2006)

Beyond the hedonic treadmill: revising the adaptation theory of well-being.
Am Psychol. 2006 May-Jun;61(4):305-14.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16719675
Diener E, et al.

According to the hedonic treadmill model, good and bad events temporarily affect happiness, but people quickly adapt back to hedonic neutrality.
The theory, which has gained widespread acceptance in recent years, implies that individual and societal efforts to increase happiness are doomed to failure.
The recent empirical work outlined here indicates that 5 important revisions to the treadmill model are needed.
First, individuals’ set points are not hedonically neutral.
Second, people have different set points, which are partly dependent on their temperaments.
Third, a single person may have multiple happiness set points: Different components of well-being such as pleasant emotions, unpleasant emotions, and life satisfaction can move in different directions.
Fourth, and perhaps most important, well-being set points can change under some conditions.
Finally, individuals differ in their adaptation to events, with some individuals changing their set point and others not changing in reaction to some external event.
These revisions offer hope for psychologists and policy-makers who aim to decrease human misery and increase happiness.

Comment in:
On the importance of distinguishing hedonia and eudaimonia when contemplating the hedonic treadmill. [Am Psychol. 2007]

Comment on Diener, Lucas, and Scollon (2006). “Beyond the hedonic treadmill: revising the adaptation theory of well-being”. [Am Psychol. 2007]

Hedonic treadmill

Salary Level May Not Indicate Contentment
December 16, 2005
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5056509

Mr. CLEMENTS: the research says is that there’s this youth curve in happiness.
You know, people tend to be reasonably happy in their 20s, they get less and less happy through their 30s, they hit bottom in their 40s, and then they tend to rebound from there.

MONTAGNE: Here’s something that’s interesting, something called the `hedonic treadmill,’ having to do with hedonism, right?

Mr. CLEMENTS: Right. I mean, the notion is that, you know, we all think, `OK, you know, if only we were richer, we’d be happier.
If only we got that next pay raise, we’d be happier.’ But what happens is you tend to get used to it after a while and so, you know, the boost to your happiness tends to fade away and after a couple of months you may feel little or no better off.

MONTAGNE: If it isn’t a pay raise or something kind of specific in time that can get you back to feeling happy, if you will, or content, what are the things that economics researchers and sociologists say will return you to a state of feeling content?

Mr. CLEMENTS: … one of the things that seems to have the biggest negative impact on people’s sense of well-being is a long commute.
Another thing that seems to be important is having job flexibility...
The other key thing is friends are a huge boost to happiness. If you spend your time seeing friends on a regular basis, you have a close-knit group of friends, that can really, really help.

related:
What Makes Us Happy At Work?
University of Kent
https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing/career-satisfaction.htm

Hedonic treadmill
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_treadmill

theme cited by:
Gamification
University of Pennsylvania
https://www.coursera.org/course/gamification

What is it called the analogous phenomenon in:
– student motivation?
– epistemic curiosity?
– love?

cf:
https://franzcalvo.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/remade-all-the-time-made-new

Rick Hanson: Hardwiring Happiness

IdeaSphere: 131216
‎‎December ‎20, ‎2013
http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=510189

Hardwiring Happiness: Neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson has a different way of looking at the functions of the brain and our inherent tendency to focus on the negative.
What he’s realized is that simply using positive thinking isn’t the answer. Neither is the practice of mindfulness.
He says you have to rewire your brain.

related:
Kurzweil > Books
http://www.kurzweilai.net/hardwiring-happiness-the-new-brain-science-of-contentment-calm-and-confidence