Friday, September 23, 2016

Subjective well-being

Subjective well-being (SWB) refers to how people experience the quality of their lives and includes both emotional reactions and cognitive judgments. Psychologists have defined happiness as a combination of life satisfaction and the relative frequency of positive and negative experience of feeling.
  • The study of SWB is a central concern of positive psychology.
  • Wealth. At first, SWB increases with income, but has diminishing marginal utility.
  • DNA. SWB is influenced by a combination of personality/genetics (50%), external circumstances (temporary effect) and mental/physical activities (more lasting improvement).
  • Health. SWB is highly correlated to health, which will provide positive feedback to health.
  • “The most salient characteristics shared by the 10% of students with the highest levels of happiness and the fewest signs of depression were their strong ties to friends and family and commitment to spending time with them.” (‘Very Happy People,” Psychological Science 2002)
  • Science of Happiness: Communicating, volunteer and caring, exercise, getting in the flow, spiritual engagement, strengths and virtues, positive thinking (gratitude, savoring and optimism)

Interesting websites for happiness:

why it doesn’t pay to be a people-pleaser

Live with total integrity. Be transparent, honest, and authentic. Do not ever waiver from this; white lies and false smiles quickly snowball into a life lived out of alignment. It is better to be yourself and risk having people not like you than to suffer the stress and tension that comes from pretending to be someone you’re not, or professing to like something that you don’t. I promise you: Pretending will rob you of joy.
  1. We don’t actually fool anyone
    We humans aren’t actually very good at hiding how we are feeling. We exhibit micro-expressions that the people we are with might not know they are registering but that trigger mirror neurons—so a little part of their brain thinks that they are feeling our negative feelings. So trying to suppress negative emotions when we are talking with someone—like when we don’t want to trouble someone else with our own distress—actually increases stress levels of both people more than if we had shared our distress in the first place.(It also reduces rapport and inhibits the connection between two people.)
  2. We find it harder to focus
    Pretending takes a huge conscious effort—it’s an act of self-control that drains your brain of its power to focus and do deep work. That’s because performing or pretending to be or feel something you’re not requires tremendous willpower.
    Tons of research suggests that our ability to repeatedly exert our self-control is actually quite limited. Like a muscle that tires and can no longer perform at its peak strength after a workout, our self-control is diminished by previous efforts at control, even if those efforts take place in a totally different realm.
So that little fib at the water cooler you told in order to make yourself seem happier than you are is going to make it hard for you to focus later in the afternoon. A performance or any attempt to hide who you really are, or pretend to be something you aren’t, is going to make it harder later to control your attention and your thoughts, and to regulate your emotions. It’ll increase the odds that you react more aggressively to a provocation, eat more tempting snacks, engage in riskier behaviors, and—this one is pretty compelling to me—perform more poorly on tasks that require executive function, like managing your time, planning, or organizing
  1. You’ll become more stressed and anxious
    Let’s just call it like it is: Pretending to be or feel something that you don’t—even if it is a small thing, and even if it is relatively meaningless, and even if it is meant to protect someone else—is a lie.
And lying, even if we do it a lot, or are good at it, is very stressful to our brains and our bodies. The polygraph test depends on this: “Lie Detectors” don’t actually detect lies, but rather they detect the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. These tests sense changes in our skin electricity, pulse rate, and breathing. They also detect when someone’s vocal pitch has changed in a nearly imperceptible way, a consequence of tension in the body that tightens vocal chords.
We don’t lie or pretend or perform all the time, of course. But when we do, it’s important to see the consequences: increased stress, decreased willpower, impaired relationships. Although we might actually be trying to feel better by putting on a happy face for others, pretending always backfires in the end. Living in authentically makes life hard and cuts us off from our sweet spot—that place where we have both ease and power.