Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” ―Aristotle

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, Prof of psychology at University of California, Riverside – a leading expert on happiness, 40% of our happiness is in our control and we have the power to effect that through how we think and act. Prof Lyubomirsky recently received a one million dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to research the possibility of becoming happier. She advises us to move away from the phrase “pursuit of happiness”, which implies that happiness is an object that one has to chase, instead we should think more toward the creation of happiness, which is more accurate since it’s in our power to do so. How can we decide what will make us happier and how precisely should we go about making it happen?

Martin Seligman, a University of Penn psychology professor, conducted a study in which he taught a single happiness-enhancing strategy to a group of severely depressed people. Although these individuals had great difficulty even leaving their beds, they were instructed to write down three good things that happened in their lives each day. Within 15 days of practicing this their depression was reclassified from severe to mild depression, and then to moderate. Ninety-four percent of the experiment’s subjects experienced relief.

The study’s instruction is to spend at least 15 mins a day thinking about 3 good things that happened during the day and then writing them down, including as much detail as possible, reflecting on how this good thing came about and what allowed it to happen today. Some days it may be hard to find three good things. The conclusion we can draw from this study is that any form of positive reflection is good for our psyche.

To change one’s life, start immediately, do it flamboyantly, no exceptions. -William James, one of the leading thinkers of the late 19th c and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers (and psychologists).