Excerpts from Harvard Health Publi­ca­tions: “In 2002, the Corpo­rate Lead­er­ship Council compiled a survey of almost 20,000 employees at 34 compa­nies.  Their find­ings showed a dramatic link between job perfor­mance and atten­tion to strengths: when perfor­mance reviews empha­sized what a person was doing right in the job, it led to a 36% improve­ment in perfor­mance, while empha­sizing perfor­mance weak­nesses led to a 27% decline in perfor­mance.”

Certain strengths have been found to be the most closely linked to happi­ness.  They are grat­i­tude, hope, vitality, curiosity, and love.  These strengths are so impor­tant that they’re worth culti­vating and applying in your daily life, whether or not they come natu­rally to you…”

Mind­ful­ness-based cogni­tive therapy (MBCT), which combines mind­ful­ness prac­tice with cogni­tive behav­ioral tech­niques, has been success­fully used to treat depres­sion and anxiety.…  In a random­ized clin­ical trial published in the Journal of Consulting and Clin­ical Psychology, people with recur­rent depres­sion who partic­i­pated in an eight-week group course of MBCT were signif­i­cantly less likely to become depressed again than people who continued on anti­de­pres­sants without therapy.  During the study, people in the mind­ful­ness group reported greater phys­ical well-being and enjoy­ment in daily life, and 75% were able to discon­tinue their anti­de­pres­sant medica­tion.”

Aspects of mind­ful­ness medi­ta­tion tend to be dose-related– the more you do, the more effect it usually has.  Most people find that it takes at least 20 minutes for the mind to begin to settle, so this is a reason­able way to start.  If you’re ready for a more serious commit­ment, Jon Kabat-Zinn recom­mends 45 minutes of medi­ta­tion at least six days a week.  But you can get started by prac­ticing the tech­niques described here for shorter periods.”

Your tempera­ment also influ­ences how you handle choice and how it influ­ences your happi­ness.  ‘I never settle for second best.’  Does that sound like you?  Psychol­o­gists would call you a maxi­mizer: in your quest for the best deal or product, you need to eval­uate all the choices before making a deci­sion.  Other people are satis­fi­cers: they have stan­dards for what they want in a given circum­stance, but as soon as some­thing meets those stan­dards (which can be high or low) they make the deci­sion.  Judged by measur­able criteria, maxi­mizers may make the best choices.  In research at Columbia Univer­sity and Swarth­more College, students were rated on their tendency toward maxi­mizing or satis­ficing and were followed for a year as they searched for jobs.  By the crite­rion of starting salary, maxi­mizers found the best jobs, making 20% more.  However, going through the process they expe­ri­enced many more nega­tive emotions, and after being hired they were less happy with their jobs than their class­mates who looked for the good-enough option.  Who made the best deci­sion: those with the higher salary or those with greater happi­ness?” · Go to Posi­tive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happi­ness, mind­ful­ness, and personal strength →