Tag Archives: well-being

Laughter May Not Be “The Best Medicine”

Robin Ferner

Robin Ferner

Laughter has its serious side,” according to University of Birmingham’s Robin Ferner and Jeffrey Aronson of University of Oxford, despite author Norman Cousins’ anecdotal account of managing pain of his debilitating form of arthritis by watching Marx Brothers comedies, rest, and vitamin C.

Jeffrey Aronson

Jeffrey Aronson

Although laughter can feel good and has been advocated for its health benefits, Ferner and Aronson noted that “pathological” laughter can be caused by medical disorders including:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Cerebral tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis.
Norman Cousins

Norman Cousins

Similarly, they noted many medical disorders result from laughter, including

Laughter Literature ReviewThis last “side effect” they noted was “promoting brand preference,” in a study by Radboud University Nijmegen’s Madelijn Strick, Rob Holland, Rick van Baaren, and Ad van Knippenberg, who investigated “how humor breaks resistance to influence.”

Madelijn Strick

Madelijn Strick

Strick and team concluded that “resistance” causes negative brand associations, but humor in advertisements provides cognitive distraction that prevents negative brand associations and increases positive brand impressions due to positive emotional engagement.
Together, these cognitive and emotional effects promote brand preference.

Laughter’s health benefits in addition to its commercial value, have been documented for decades, and include reduced:

Rob Holland

Rob Holland

Other documented health benefits include increased:

Rick van Baaren

Rick van Baaren

Benefit have been documented across countries and cultures: Both Indians and Canadians reported greater emotional well-being when they laughed to moderate levels, according to Hunaid Hasan and Tasneem Fatema Hasan, then of Mahatma Gandhi Mission’s Medical College.

Team Hasan compared more than 350 adults from Aurangabad, India, with the same number of adults from Mississauga, Canada on demographics, typical amount of laughter, lifestyle, subjective well-being, life satisfaction, emotional well-being, and health dimensions.

Ad van Knippenberg

Ad van Knippenberg

In India, moderate levels of laughter were linked to greatest well-being and life satisfaction, with low levels and high levels showing no effect.

Canadians also greatest benefits associated with moderate laughter, but higher levels of laughter were associated with negative effects.
The Hasan and Hasan team attributed this result to Canada’s higher prevalence of bronchial asthma, which may be precipitated or exacerbated by extreme laughter.

These research findings suggest that more laughter is “not always better” and may require “titrated doses” to extract benefits while minimizing documented “risks.”

-*How do you capitalize on laughter’s benefits while minimizing “the risks”?

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Explicit Gratitude Increases Well-Being, Reduces Materialism

Robert Emmons

Robert Emmons

Gratitude, or appreciating a beneficial outcome, has significant benefits to physical and emotional health, according to Robert Emmons at the University of California.

He found that volunteers who kept a gratitude journal exercised more frequently, reported fewer physical symptoms of pain, were more optimistic about the upcoming week, and showed greater progress towards personal goals over a two-month period than people who kept journals that reported events factually or allowed them to complain.

Jeffrey Froh

Jeffrey Froh

Emmons worked with Hofstra’s Jeffrey J. Froh and Giacomo Bono of California State University, Dominguez Hills to consider gratitude in contrast to happiness among 700 middle school students, who completed measures of gratitude, prosocial behavior, life satisfaction, and social integration, with re-measures after 3 months and 6 months.

Giacomo Bono

Giacomo Bono

Emmons and team found that students who expressed gratitude initially showed greater social integration after 6 months, and these dimensions enhanced each other.
Theyposit that gratitude may help young people develop greater emotional and social well-being, and prosocial contribution to their communities.

Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson

This team was joined by Hofstra’s Jennifer Wilson and Noel Card of University of Arizona in another study of young adults who practicing daily gratitude exercises.

These volunteers reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to people who focused on social comparisons with people in better or worse life situations than they.

Noel Card

Noel Card

The year-end holiday season often provokes reflections on materialism and gratitude.

Emily Polak

Emily Polak

Materialistic strivings have been implicated as a cause of unhappiness, whereas gratitude as a trait and as a temporary state can be related to happiness, according to Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Emily L. Polak and Michael E. McCullough of University of Miami’s.

Michael McCullough

Michael McCullough

They note that gratitude may reduce materialistic strivings and reduce associated unhappiness to increase well-being.

-*How effective is conscious gratitude on increasing happiness, well-being, and social integration?

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Why Organizations Care about Employee “Happiness”

“Command-and-control” managers of the past might have scoffed at current business research on happiness.
Under their spans-of-control, employees ought to have been happy to have a job from which they derived an income.
This view has been supplanted by widespread recognition that desirable outcomes like innovative problem solving, flexible decision making, and workplace productivity are associated with employees’ positive mood.

GallupResearch by the Gallup Organization offers further justification in its finding that disgruntled employees disengage and cost the American economy up to $350 billion a year in lost productivity.

Therefore, organizations can increase financial performance by improving operational efficiency in the many processes involving people.

Sigal Barsade

Sigal Barsade

Sigal Barsade of the Wharton School of Business contributed to the investigation of happiness’s impact on organizational productivity.
She found that positive moods prompt “more flexible decision-making, wider search behavior and greater analytic precision,” which enable the organization to take considered risks.

Jennifer Aaker

Jennifer Aaker

On the other coast, Jennifer Aaker, award-winning professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, links workplace happiness and a sense of meaning.

She asserts that having a meaningful impact on the world is a strong predictor of happiness and that it’s possible to cultivate mindfulness and awareness of meaning in work and personal activities.
This cultivated awareness, she said, influences people’s subjective well-being and may positively affect that of others in a contagion effect.

Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt

New York University’s Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist in the Stern School of Business, takes a more philosophical view of happiness.
He redefines “wisdom” – other might say “leadership” or “self-management” – as the ability to adapt, shape the environment, and know when to move to new environments.

His moral and ethical framework includes high-level philosophical “virtues” associated with a sense of well-being and shared across cultures:

  • Courage
  • Humanity
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Transcendence

The Happiness HypothesisHaidt’s book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom , specified contributors to well-being:

  • Strong marriages
  • Physical touch
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Religious affiliation
  • Autonomy
  • Meaningful engagement in work
  • Contributing to a community through voluntary effort

Engineering organizations analyze issues according to “Is-Is Not.
Using this approach, Jonathan Haidt’s research offered some surprising happiness detractors or “is-nots”:

  • Persistent noise
  • Long commutes
  • Lack of situational and person control
  • Shame
  • Dysfunctional relationships
Matthias Mehl

Matthias Mehl

Matthias Mehl of the University of Arizona offered an additional contributor to happiness: Interpersonal dialog.
He found that volunteers who engaged in a meaningful conversation create shared meaning, strengthened their connections, and reported feeling happy.

Jennifer Michael Hecht

Jennifer Michael Hecht

Jennifer Michael Hecht’s The Happiness Myth, offers a framework for types and levels of happiness:

  • Good day, awareness, savoring, and gratitude for the fortunate conditions of one’s life
  • Good life, engaging in meaningful and challenging tasks that help provide a material quality of life and doing one’s best in any endeavor
  • Peak, choosing experiences that inspire awe and a sense of the eternal, connect to families and communities.

The Happiness MythShe cites familiar recommendations to:

  • Cultivate self-knowledge
  • Develop a clear view of one’s worth
  • Moderate desires
  • Appreciate mortality and time limits
  • Try new things
  • Increase involvement with others and the community.

Organizational policies can contribute to employees’ sense of well-being through establishing:

  • Opportunities for career movement and development
  • Regular acknowledgement and praise for a job well done
  • Focus on well-being as individuals through health and work/life integration programs

The payoffs to organizations include increased productivity, innovation and engagement.

-*How have you seen efforts to increase organizational “happiness” result in improved employee engagement, productivity, or decision-making?

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Happiness-Money Connection: Halo Effect of Happy Mood? Part 2

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

The Happiness-Money Connection: Halo Effect of Happy Mood? Part 1 outlined studies by Nobel Prize winner and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, with Angus Deaton and by British researchers Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Andrew Oswald, documenting the long-term positive impact of subjective positive emotions on life outcomes including academic attainment, employment status, and income over time.Michael Norton’s research added the insight that money can buy happiness – if it’s used for other people.

Taken together, these findings point to the value of cultivating positive emotional states.

Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman

Distinguished psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman was one of the first researchers to empirically investigate correlates of happiness and well-being, and his recent book,

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being recasts his

Flourish

earlier emphasis on Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment.
He opined that “well-being” is a more accurate concept, defined by the acronym PERMA:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

Authentic Happiness

Though this is largely a conceptual model, he offers several exercises like considering one’s “signature strengths” and “three blessings” or things that have gone well during a day.

Sonja Lyubomirsky of UC Riverside synthesized happiness-enhancing recommendations from self-help books in The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want,  and provided familiar happiness-enhancing strategies:The How of Happiness

  • Cultivate optimism, consciously stop negative thoughts
  • Avoid “overthinking“, social comparison
  • Practice kindness
  • Invest time in social relationships, family
  • Develop coping strategies
  • Forgive self, others
  • Increase “flow” experiences, do enjoyable things
  • Savor life’s joyful experiences
  • Live in the present
  • Commit to goals
  • Organize space, work, life
  • Participate in religious or meditative practice
  • Keep self-reflection Journals

The Happiness Project

Gretchen Rubin combined some of these recommendations with erudite references to great philosophers’ and thinkers’ guidance, health recommendations, and time-tested common sense in The Happiness Project.

Daniel Gilbert of Harvard’s bestseller, Stumbling on Happiness , synthesized social science research about imagined expected future outcomes and control over them in relation to the experience of happiness.Stumbling on Happiness

He noted that human imagination and prediction are inaccurate, so he suggested using “surrogates” of future events to more accurately test future satisfaction with real-life choices like having children, moving to a new home, or working in a new job.

Other ways to cultivate the Emotional Intelligence capabilities of positive emotional experience are highlighted in related Posts:

-*How have you cultivated happiness?
-*How have happiness and money been related in your experience?

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Happiness-Money Connection: Halo Effect of Happy Mood? Part 1

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

“(More) Money can’t buy (more) happiness” has been demonstrated in a research study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Nobel Prize winner and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, with Angus Deaton.

They analyzed more than 450,000 responses to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a daily survey of 1,000 US residents conducted by the Gallup Organization, and distinguished two elements of “subjective well-being” or happiness:

  • Emotional well-being – Frequency and intensity of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection,leading to pleasant or unpleasant quality of life, measured by Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Scale of yesterday’s emotional experiences
  • Life evaluation – Subjective assessment of one’s life.

They found that as emotional well-being rises with income up to about $75,000 in 2010 US dollars, then does not continue increasing with higher income levels.
In addition, daily emotions were predicted by health status, care giving, loneliness, and smoking.

Life evaluation increased as income and education increased, and the study confirmed that low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with divorce, ill health, and being alone.

Michael Norton

Michael Norton

In fact, Michael Norton of Harvard Business School found that volunteers’ happiness increased with more money only when they spent money on others.

Replicated in Canada, Uganda, Rwanda, and other countries, his research found that happiness increases when people:

  • Select experiences over things
  • Spend money on others, regardless of the amount of money spent

 He concluded that money can buy happiness when it’s spent on other people and experiences in Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending … a worthwhile reminder in this season of gift-giving.
Norton’s TED talk

British researchers investigated longitudinal connections between happiness and money, and found that people who express more positive emotions as teenagers have more positive life outcomes as adults, including higher education and income.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of University College London and Andrew Oswald of

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve

University of Warwick  analyzed Carolina Population Center’s National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (“Add Health”) profiles of more than 10,000 Americans at ages 16, 18 and 22 and  their annual incomes at age 29.

De Neve and Oswald controlled for education level, IQ, height and self-esteem, all known to contribute to financial success.

Reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found that those who express more positive emotions in their teen years, reported greater life satisfaction and optimism as young adults, were more likely to earn a university degree, secure employment, advance to higher-level roles, and have higher incomes by age 29.

The survey assessed life satisfaction on a 5-point scale, and found that an increase of 1-point at age 22 made translated to a $2,000 difference in later income measured in in 2012 US dollars, and the later income difference between the happiest and unhappiest participants was $8,000 by the same measure.

Andrew Oswald

Andrew Oswald

DeNeve and Oswald validated the finding by comparing about 3,000 sibling pairs who shared the same parents and socioeconomic status.
They found that the happier siblings also had more positive emotions and life evaluation than less-happy participants.

One explanation of these findings is that observers generalize positive impressions of people who display more positive emotions in a “halo effect”, so these happier individuals are seen as more likeable, competent and attractive, and are offered more opportunities for education, employment, and social relationships.

These findings suggest the importance of increasing the “Emotional Intelligence” competencies of emotional self-regulation.
See The Happiness-Money Connection: Halo Effect of Happy Mood?Part 2 for research-based recommendations on developing happiness and well-being.

-*How do you view the connection between happiness and money?

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