Study proves the value of tips on being happy
A major study on happiness carried out at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) demonstrates that tips on how to be happy actually have a positive effect on the average person’s level of happiness. The results are assembled and explained in the book Veel geluk (Good Luck).
KU Leuven examined the sense of happiness among 7,770 residents of Flanders, who were divided into three groups. One group received an e-mail every day for four weeks with short tips on increasing happiness. Another group received more extensive ideas in a weekly email, while the third group got just one e-mail at the end of the four-week period.
Short tips included, for example, to indulge in simple things that make them happy. An example of a more extensive tip was to thank a person who has been important to them.
The participants’ sense of happiness was analysed after the first four weeks and again after six months. Researchers ascertained a clear positive effect on the feeling of happiness among the participants in the first two groups, both in the short and the long term. The third group showed little to no change.
What is particularly noteworthy, said KU Leuven professor Patrick Luyten, is that there was no discernible connection between actually carrying out of the suggestions and the increase of feelings of happiness. “What’s important is that the interventions set in motion a reflection process,” he explained “They make us clearly aware of how we live our lives and what makes us happy or unhappy.”
Nearly three-quarters of the participants claimed that the project changed their view of life a little, while 83% said they had started to reflect on their lives, with positive effects.
“We didn’t expect these findings as the intervention is very limited in time and scale,” said professor Luyten. “But apparently, the suggestions have stimulated these people to go through more consciously in the long term.”
Luyten stressed that more follow-up is necessary to examine the effects after one year or 18 months have passed.