The Science of Happiness

Poster says "Like Whatever You Do.

This Mary Engelbreit poster hangs in our bathroom. In full it says "To Be Happy: Don't do what you like, like whatever you do."

I live with two teenagers, and sometimes their collective negativity drives me crazy.

I don’t get it. I’ve raised them to see the glass half full, to take a lemon and make lemonade. When they were little, I read them The Little Engine That Could. I’ve pointed them toward zen lessons and exposed them to metaphysical thought and the power of meditation to observe thoughts and to consciously change negative attitudes for a healthier ones. Unfortunately, in their current state of teen cynicism, getting them to act as if they’re feeling positive or even neutral when they are in any way grumpy, is beyond my parenting skill.

None of this change your attitude/change your life philosophy is new information. Once upon a time, long before parenthood was on my radar, when I was young, single and training to be a city Metro driver, a crotchety old-timer on the fleet taught me to smile at each and every passenger who stepped onto my trolley. He was quite sure it would change the entire ride for everyone on board. In the following two years, I experienced this truth first hand. The handful of times I was too grumpy to start my run in a good mood, the entire trolley would empty onto the downtown Seattle sidewalk, unleashing a collective foul mood on the city.

So, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the most current trend in psychology is called Positive Psychology. The basic idea is if you have a happy attitude, you will raise your success, raise your productivity, raise your speed and accuracy and effectiveness. It’s a win, win, win.

[Read the rest of Kalynn Brower’s post about what Harvard experts have discovered about happiness at GeekMom!]