Am I going to be permanently morose? Some studies have the answer!

Life-satisfaction, in other words how one in general feels and functions in life, has two facets, cognitive and affective. In life or domain specific satisfaction (like work), the cognitive component of subjective well-being appears stable, unlike  moods and feelings component. One’s feelings components are naturally affected by life crises; however a group of researchers proposed the ‘set-point’ theory, stating that with the passage of time, individuals adapt to their original ‘set-point’ of emotional disposition. In other words if one is morose, the theory indicates the negative state for life! Recent research however appears to contest the decade old ‘set-point theory of happiness’ which disallows any permanent shift in the level to which a person feels positive. In one study, Seligman (2005), and Sheldon and Lyubormirsky (2006) assessed effectiveness of five positive psychology interventions on an online convenience sample of 577 males and females. They encouraged respondents of the study to use ‘signature strengths in a new way’ or become ‘aware of one’s blessings’ and found that these ‘practices’ led to increases in reports of happiness and decrease in depression over 6 months. Further, positive effects of the ‘gratitude visit’ lasted a month. Heady (2008) reviewed the ‘set point theory’ and made strong arguments to be replaced. This was good news for researchers and practitioners alike! As not having a ‘set-point’ in feeling permanently doomed, meant that individuals’ well-being could be developed, intervened for the better and spiralled up, for them to feel good and do more (augmenting the’ happy-productive worker’ thesis), and further benefit individual and organizational outcomes. Giving some credit to what can not change and is permanent, but not the whole story, Lyubomirsky et al. proposed a sustainable happiness model in which the authors posits that happiness is the result of three possible sources, namely, a) genetic predisposition – that can not change; b) life circumstances – for what it is and therefore may not be changeable; and c) one’ intentional activities – which through habitual practice of appropriate strategies can create increased happiness. It is this last aspect in which one can intentionally engage in positive thoughts and actions and through repetition inculcate new heights of habitual happiness and well-being!

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1 Response to Am I going to be permanently morose? Some studies have the answer!

  1. Tamer Sabet says:

    This IS positive and makes a lot of sense! The “set point theory” appear to present a glum disposition to potential happiness. It is good to know that researchers are pressure testing this theory and finding models that better explain our pursuit (and temporary capability it seems) to be happier.

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