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  • 10/30/2007

What"s Your Happiness I.Q.?

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Have you ever wondered what your happiness I.Q. is? Do you think it has anything to do with aging?

Positive psychology, as the new science is called, looks at the attributes that scientists hope to prove make life worth living. So why do we care?

Because, according to a recent New York Times magazine piece: "Being happier seems to have positive long-term effects not just on well-being but also on health and life span." The now well-reported study is by University of Kentucky researchers of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

The researchers discovered that "9 out of 10 of the most positive 25 percent of the nuns were still alive at 85, while only one-third of the least positive 25 percent were. Overall, their study showed positive emotions correlated to a 10-year increase in life span, greater even than the difference between smokers and nonsmokers."

Focus your intelligence and energy on achieving happiness for self and others. You have a great deal of intelligence that you may never have focused on the goal of maximizing happiness. The knowledge and skills required to be successful at being happy are not innate. If your family (or others you know well) were not good role-models for how to be happy, then where were you to get these skills? You can increase your Happiness IQ by learning from happy people, reading, therapy, and many other experiences in life.

But whomever you read or see for therapy, try to find out if they are happy persons themselves. Also, do they know about the specific areas that you most need help in? We can learn something from anyone, but we can learn most from those who know most about what we want to learn.

But, uh, how exactly can I get happier? According to the piece in the Times, it"s important to identify the things that you are good at - what positive psychologists call signature strengths. And you can explore what yours are by taking a test at authentichappiness.org. The second thing that seems to increase happiness is doing good, as opposed to simply feeling good. So instead of getting that massage, maybe give one.

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