Sunday, February 28, 2016

Focusing on the 40 Percent of Factors that Influence Happiness

Research by Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, suggests that what we do and what we think are far more important than our life circumstances.

"Fifty percent of individual differences in happiness are governed by genes, 10 percent by life circumstances, and the remaining 40 percent by what we do and how we think—that is, our intentional activities and strategies," writes Lyubomirsky.

This research is incredibly inspiring to those of us who are committed to living lives to the fullest and to empowering others to do the same. In our book Positively Smarter: Science and Strategies for Increasing Happiness, Achievement, and Well-Being, we share the Focused Fifteen strategies that we have found to be effective in supporting higher levels of happiness.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Harvard Researchers Highlight Health Benefits of Happiness

Researchers at Harvard are pioneering investigations into the influence of happiness on health and well-being. For example, children who are able to stay focused on a task and have a more positive outlook at age 7 report better general health and fewer illnesses 30 years later. Optimism cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by half!

Learn more by visiting the link.

How Happiness (Subjective Well-Being) Influences Health

Emerging research shows that happiness has a positive impact on health. According to a recent report entitled “The Objective Benefits of Subjective Well-Being,” being in a happier state of mind has been shown to have a positive correlation with human health, with some of the benefits including:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved cardiovascular health, immune and endocrine systems
  • Lowered risk of heart disease, stroke and susceptibility to infection
  • The practice of good health behaviors such as better diet, exercise, weight control and less likelihood of smoking
  • Speedier recoveries
  • Greater survival and longevity rates

The research indicates that happiness and, conversely, unhappiness have a direct association with physiological processes related to health and disease. Subjective well-being influences physiological processes underlying health and disease, which makes it predictive of such health conditions as higher risk of heart disease or recovery periods in the wake of an injury or disease.

Happy to be Leading Happiness Ambassador Training in Winter Park, Fla.

Donna and I are thrilled to be starting a worldwide process for improving lives by applications of strategies for increasing subjective well-being in our Happiness Ambassador Training. The presentation is based on our best-selling book Positively Smarter: Science and Strategies for Increasing Happiness, Achievement and Well-being.

The response has been so positive that the city of Winter Park, Fla., has declared February 29 to be Happiness Day (see above proclamation). More than 100 volunteers will be attending the Happiness Ambassador Workshop at Rollins College in association with the Rollins College Center for Health Innovation and Healthy Central Florida.

Making the Most of Our Cognitive Assets

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

It’s an exciting time for mind, brain, and education research, with psychologists and neuroscientists regularly making discoveries that have revolutionized our understanding about people learn.

For instance, we now know that academic achievement is greatly influenced by students’ ability to apply thought processes in a systematic way. We use the term metacognition to describe this ability, with the strategies that come into play known as cognitive assets. Cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists may use the term executive functions or skills to describe similar functions.

For example, educators, psychologists and neuroscientists may all speak of the importance of capacities such as working memory, selective attention, and metacognition with regard to learning. All three groups of professionals are talking about skills that are linked to the brain’s prefrontal region, as well as other areas of the brain depending upon the specific skill. Ongoing research continues to increase our understanding about related structures and functions.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Think About Heart Health on This Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is the holiday in which we consider matters of the heart. For the sake of our health, it’s important that we think about our hearts on the other days of the year as well.

Putting the emphasis on cardiovascular health is essential to maintaining a healthy Body-Brain System, and maintaining a healthy Body-Brain System is the key to living a long and productive life of learning and doing all the things that we love to do most.

What better time than this Valentine's Day holiday to celebrate the steps we can all take to adopt a cardio-protective lifestyle? The American Heart Association offers a simple prescription for heart health in the following "Simple 7" health guidelines: