Self Help

Myths of Happiness What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does (9781101605509) - Lyubomirsky, Sonja

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Matheus Puppe

· 48 min read



  • The book examines common “myths of happiness” - beliefs that certain life achievements like marriage, kids, wealth will make us forever happy, while failures/adversities will make us forever unhappy.

  • In reality, our well-being is not so black and white. Achievements may provide initial satisfaction but won’t necessarily lead to long-term, intense happiness. Failures/adversities won’t necessarily make us permanently unhappy either.

  • The book explores 10 different “adult crisis points” related to relationships, work/money, and aging, and how our mindset and reactions shape the outcomes.

  • Crisis points are opportunities for positive change if we prepare our “mind” by gaining a broader perspective from research. Adversity can actually boost resilience and effectiveness in coping with future challenges.

  • Negative emotions during crises alert us to problems and can be valuable if not chronic. Making sense of challenges helps define our identities and boosts optimism.

  • Our initial reactions to crises often compel dramatic responses, but slowing down and gaining perspective allows wiser choices with better long-term outcomes. The book aims to provide this perspective.

  • Crisis moments in our lives can have long-lasting cascading effects on future decisions and outcomes. How we respond in these pivotal times shapes our future path.

  • Both positive and negative events are often intertwined, with unexpected consequences. What seems like bad luck may lead to opportunities, and vice versa. Their impact is complex and not immediately clear.

  • We tend to overestimate how intensely a life event will affect our happiness or unhappiness, because we can’t foresee how our emotions and perspective will change over time. Daily experiences serve to buffer both positive and negative events.

  • Our “psychological immune system” helps protect us from adversity through rationalization, resilience, and adaptation. Negative impacts are cushioned over time as we find benefits or change our view.

  • Even positive changes like new relationships or jobs yield fewer rewards over time as we adapt to the “new normal” through hedonic adaptation. Joy and satisfaction are not sustained.

  • Decisions made quickly on intuition or instinct are not necessarily better than more deliberative, thoughtful choices. The debate around intuitive vs reasoned decision-making is long-standing in philosophy.

This passage discusses how expectations about relationships and major life milestones can shape our thinking during times of crisis or crossroads. Some key points:

  • Major relationship challenges like divorce can be enormously stressful, akin to experiencing a car crash daily for months.

  • When facing questions about relationships, we bring culturally ingrained expectations that finding a partner/getting married will make us forever happy, and failure to do so will make us unhappy.

  • Psychological research shows people adapt well to challenges like being single or parenting difficulties. Yet we quickly habituate to positive changes like new marriages.

  • The author’s laboratory has studied how people take their lives for granted and how to slow habituation when bored with marriages/sex lives.

  • Lessons from this work may provide unexpected insights when facing relationship crises. Tools will be offered to develop a prepared mind before acting on first intuitions, by considering options with an open perspective informed by research.

  • The goal is not to prescribe actions but arm readers with the latest findings on likely paths and introduce tools to make reasoned, evidence-based choices fitting their individual circumstances.

In summary, it discusses how relationship expectations shape our mindsets during crises, and how psychological research can provide a more nuanced perspective to make deliberative decisions instead of acting on initial intuitions.

  • Boredom and lack of passion/satisfaction is a common experience in long-term relationships due to hedonic adaptation, where people get used to positive changes or experiences over time.

  • Initial relationship passion/infatuation fades after 2 years on average as the “honeymoon phase” ends and relationships transition to more companionate love based on deep affection.

  • Expecting relationships to constantly fulfill desires and wish fulfillment is unrealistic given this natural adaptation process. Relationships serve functions beyond passion like stability for raising children.

  • Understanding hedonic adaptation can help reframe dissatisfaction as normal and prevent seeing the relationship in “black and white” terms of staying or leaving.

  • Slowing adaptation requires ongoing dedicated effort to resist taking the partner for granted and reintroduce novelty, fun, leisure and consideration into the relationship even years later. Recognizing this process is the first step to overcoming it.

  • People naturally adapt to good things in their lives over time, like being in a long-term committed relationship, and this can lead to taking the relationship for granted and losing satisfaction/excitement.

  • One way to resist adaptation is by continuing to consciously appreciate your partner and relationship. Things like writing appreciation letters, focusing on the positives, and being grateful can help sustain happiness.

  • Imagining subtracting your partner/relationship from your life can also promote appreciation by making you focus on what you currently have.

  • Maintaining variety in the relationship through new experiences together helps prevent adaptation. Static relationships people get used to more quickly, while dynamic relationships with ongoing novel engagement resist adaptation.

  • Small acts of appreciation, focusing on gratitude, and injecting novelty/variety into the relationship can all help counteract the natural human tendency to adapt to good things and take them for granted over time. This sustains happiness and satisfaction in the long-term relationship.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Ensuring variety in marriage through changing weekend date nights, intimacy, etc. helps stave off adaptation and keeps the relationship feeling fresh. Exposure to novelty stimulates the brain in similar ways as rewards.

  • Surprise is also important for sustained marital bliss beyond variety alone. New relationships hold many surprises that decrease over time as partners become fully known without routine. Surprise helps us appreciate and remember moments.

  • To inject novelty and surprise, the passage recommends traveling to new places, socializing more widely, trying new hobbies/activities together, observing one’s partner in new ways each day, interrupting positive shared experiences to “reset” enjoyment, and engaging in novel stimulating activities together. Regularly challenging routines and each other’s growth helps prevent boredom.

  • Researchers had married couples do either neutral or novel/physiologically arousing activities together and found that those who did the exciting activities reported feeling closer and more positively towards their partner afterwards. Even brief 7-minute activities led to these effects that lasted up to 7 hours.

  • Doing novel, exciting activities together triggers positive feelings like attraction by misattributing arousal, boosts closeness through collaboration, and leads to learning more about each other. This generates positive emotions that color relationships in a warmer way.

  • Sexual passion naturally ebbs over time in long-term relationships as familiarity breeds indifference. Both men and women show reduced sexual arousal to repeated stimuli. Novelty acts as a powerful aphrodisiac, as seen in the “Coolidge effect” in animals reinvigorating with new partners.

  • Surveys show sexual desire, satisfaction, and frequency decline with relationship length. This causes problems if perceived as a symptom of relationship issues rather than normal adaptation, fueling a vicious cycle of further declines.

  • While men typically report stronger desires and are more likely to stray, researchers suspect women may actually adapt faster, losing interest in sex with familiar partners sooner based on studies of their arousability and fantasies emphasizing passion and urges.

  • Women generally require more stimulation to feel sexually aroused than men. The author uses the analogy that a woman’s “cake” needs to be “kick-butt” to excite her to eat it.

  • Passion is harder to sustain in long-term relationships compared to new relationships or unstable ones. However, some research offers clues on rekindling passion.

  • Studies found about 13% of couples married 9+ years still had high passion levels, without obsessiveness of new love.

  • People with “approach goals” of pursuing positive experiences in their relationship, like intimacy, reported no decline in sexual desire over 6 months compared to those with “avoidance goals” of preventing conflict.

  • Maintaining passion long-term may require periodic novelty, variety, surprise. But decline of passionate love is natural and human.

  • Strategies to strengthen relationships include quality time together, good communication, managing conflict well, being supportive/loyal, sharing dreams/responsibilities.

  • Actively and constructively responding to a partner’s good news, like a promotion, with interest/delight helps relationships vs. silently supporting or pointing out downsides.

  • Helping a partner achieve their ideal self through empowerment and moral support can also boost relationship satisfaction.

  • Touch is extremely important for human development, health and relationships. It reduces stress, activates reward centers in the brain, and helps infants and children develop attachment. Touch communicates emotions beyond just sexual intimacy.

  • However, the importance of non-sexual touch is often undervalued in Western cultures. Some families and couples engage in very minimal touching.

  • Studies show simple touches can improve mood by reducing stress hormones and physical pain. Partners can also communicate specific emotions like love, gratitude and sympathy through touch.

  • In relationships, increasing non-sexual touching through small gestures like brushing against each other in the kitchen or sitting close together can help rekindle warmth, tenderness and reduce boredom or lukewarm feelings over time. Proceeding slowly is recommended depending on comfort levels.

  • Scientists have found they can predict which couples will stay together better by observing nonverbal communication like touching rather than what people say. Touch appears to be a significant factor in maintaining strong, healthy relationships.

  • The passage discusses strategies for strengthening a relationship when it is facing difficulties or significant problems.

  • It notes that focusing directly on negativity is not always the best approach, and instead recommends cultivating positive emotions, thoughts, and behaviors as a way to indirectly address and neutralize negatives.

  • Positive emotions act as antidotes to negative emotions. So instead of trying to reduce angry or resentful feelings, one should aim to maximize feelings of affection, tranquility, etc.

  • Positive thoughts counteract negative thoughts. Building thoughts about an improved future relationship can negate ruminations about feeling unworthy.

  • Positive behaviors in interactions, like laughter and kindness, can counterbalance negative behaviors like arguments or contempt.

  • When at a low point, focusing on positivity seems impossible but research shows it is most important. Cultivating positives is a better route to happiness than directly addressing negatives.

  • It uses the analogy of airline route maps to explain how positive and negative thoughts/memories are interconnected in our “semantic networks,” and how positives can diminish connection to negatives over time.

  • When a marriage is disillusioned and troubled, negative thoughts, memories, and predictions become strongly linked together in the brain’s semantic network. One bad thought easily triggers others, fueling cycles of negativity.

  • Cognitive therapy aims to break these negative links by disputing distorted thoughts and offering alternative interpretations. However, not everyone can see a therapist.

  • An alternative strategy is to infuse the semantic network with positive emotions, which can dissolve the links between negative thoughts and memories. Positive emotions provide psychological relief and speed recovery from negative states.

  • Studies show positive emotions lead to growth, resilience, meaning, trust, creativity, and taking on challenges. The more positive emotions, the more positive thoughts accumulate in upward spirals.

  • Research recommends aiming for a ratio of at least 3 positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion to achieve optimal functioning. Happy couples have a ratio of 5:1 while unhappy couples are below 1:1.

  • For disillusioned marriages, continually tracking problems and addressing hurts, even if temporarily unpleasant, may be needed to resolve major issues, rather than always sugarcoating them. Very minor problems benefit from positive attributions but major troubles require acknowledgment.

  • Positive interactions and connections with others, such as friends and family through social support, can help people cope with problems in their marriage or relationship. Social support provides comfort, a listening ear, advice, and helps mitigate stress and difficulties.

  • However, social support is not a replacement for dealing with real issues. While positive emotions and interactions are beneficial, they should not blind us to actual problems that need to be addressed, such as infidelity, constant fighting, or major disagreements.

  • Finding balance is important - coping through social support networks, but also through self-reflection and working to understand issues rather than ignore them. Forgiveness can also play a role in moving forward in a constructive manner.

In summary, positive emotions and interactions are helpful for coping, but should not replace addressing real problems through open communication and problem-solving where needed. Both aspects are important for a balanced approach.

  • The passage discusses various research-backed techniques for improving a troubled marriage, such as taking a “fly on the wall” perspective to gain insight when reflecting on problems, sealing negative experiences in a box to gain closure, and considering whether forgiveness is always beneficial.

  • Taking a self-distanced perspective rather than self-immersed when thinking about issues is said to lead to more constructive problem-solving and less reciprocal hostility.

  • Literally sealing painful memories in an envelope is said to weaken the emotional impact and make people feel less negative emotions like sadness and anger.

  • Forgiveness is discussed as liberating and improving relationships, but the passage also raises the question of whether forgiveness is always a good thing in marriages.

  • Overall, the passage explores different psychology research-informed strategies for managing troubles in marriages, but also notes some techniques may not always apply and questions need context-dependent consideration.

  • Forgiveness is complex and situational. While it can be virtuous in some relationships, being overly forgiving risks hurting oneself or enabling bad behavior.

  • Studies show forgiveness is best when (1) the relationship is likely to continue, (2) the offense is unlikely to repeat, and (3) offenses are rare.

  • People benefit from forgiving partners who are remorseful and make amends, but feel worse forgiving unrepentant partners likely to reoffend.

  • Divorce is a personal decision that depends on individual circumstances. While divorce is difficult, most people adapt over time.

  • It’s worth waiting through ups and downs in a marriage to see if problems resolve on their own. However, if unhappiness outweighs happiness, separation or divorce may be appropriate.

  • Post-divorce, people experience a range of emotions but typically become happier over time as they build resilience and move on with their lives. Activities like reflection, social support, and self-improvement can aid in coping and growth.

So in summary, the passages discuss the nuances of forgiveness, signs it may or may not be beneficial, coping with divorce, and strategies for emotional well-being during and after a separation. Forgiveness and divorce are depicted as complex issues requiring consideration of individual circumstances.

  • Research shows that while people experience initial distress after a divorce, they tend to adapt quickly and their well-being rebounds over time as they adjust to their new circumstances. Life goes on and they become occupied with other daily events and commitments.

  • The effects of divorce on children are debated. While divorce can impact parenting and cause short-term issues for some children, long-term negative effects are often small and don’t impact all children. Most children (around 75%) do not suffer long-term impediments.

  • Studies cannot prove causation as they are correlational - negative outcomes could be due to genetic factors shared by parents and children.

  • Growing up in a home with high ongoing parental conflict is generally worse for children’s well-being and adjustment than parental divorce. Children do better when able to escape a home filled with constant fighting and pressure.

  • Unhappily married couples often report similar or worse health issues compared to divorced people, as ongoing conflict and stress in marriages take a toll physically and mentally over time. A troubled marriage presents health risks.

So in summary, while divorce can be difficult, people tend to adapt over time, life continues with new commitments, and for many children and parents, divorce may be preferable to remaining in a highly conflicted marriage situation. The effects are complex with no definitive conclusions.

Here is a summary of the key points about the relationship between smoking, heart disease, and divorce:

  • Regular smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Smoking constricts blood vessels and damages the lining of arteries, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and other heart problems.

  • Studies have shown that divorce is also a significant life stressor that can negatively impact physical health. Divorce is associated with increased rates of heart disease, especially among men.

  • The stress of divorce has physiological effects like increased blood pressure, inflammation, and unhealthy changes in cholesterol levels, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular issues.

  • It is possible that the combined stress of both regular smoking and divorce could have synergistic, worsening effects on heart health compared to either factor alone. Someone going through a divorce who also smokes regularly may be at much higher risk of heart disease than someone just experiencing one of those stresses.

  • However, quitting smoking even after divorce occurs could help mitigate some of the increased cardiovascular risk from the stress of the marital split over the long run. Stopping smoking would remove one modifiable risk factor and improve health regardless of the divorce.

In summary, regular smoking and divorce each independently increase the risk of heart disease, and their combined effects may pose an even greater risk that could be lessened by quitting smoking.

  • Parenting involves many daily hassles and small crises that negatively impact happiness and well-being more than major life events or traumas. This is because we don’t utilize coping mechanisms like social support or reframing for minor issues as we do for major problems.

  • Researchers recommend acknowledging the distinction between major difficulties and minor issues in parenting by making two columns - one for “big things” and one for “little bad things.” Focusing on resolving minor issues with coping strategies can help recover more quickly from them.

  • Writing about parenting experiences, both good and bad, can help achieve balance and find emotional meaning. It allows reflecting on struggles from a removed perspective instead of being caught up in everyday stresses. Overall the essay discusses strategies for managing the daily grind of parenting and remaining resilient in the face of challenges.

The passage discusses the constant struggle parents face in balancing the various demands of parenting, work, and their relationship with their partner. Managing chores, obligations, and decision-making between kids, home, and career is exhausting and often leads to stress and conflict. Writing about one’s deepest parenting challenges can help provide emotional catharsis and make sense of the difficulties. It reduces distress over time by turning emotions into a coherent narrative.

The passage also encourages seeing parenting challenges from a “big picture” perspective - considering why one chose to have kids, how the experience will evolve over time, and the long-term benefits of having positive relationships with adult children later in life. Though it’s hard to look past current struggles, taking a lifelong view can provide continued motivation. Overall, successfully navigating the competing demands of parenting requires self-regulation and finding healthy ways to cope with stress.

The passage discusses taking breaks from relentless parenting duties in order to sustain one’s efforts over the long run. It shares a story told by a professor about a science teacher who filled an empty glass vase with large rocks first before adding smaller rocks and sand. The lesson is to commit first to meaningful “big rock” goals and projects in life, like contributing to one’s community or raising children, even if it takes time away from smaller immediate gratifications.

The passage argues that taking time off from intensive parenting can be important to reconsider priorities, alternatives, and avoid blindness to other options. While parenting is an intense cultural focus now, historically it has been a shared community responsibility. Even brief breaks like trading babysitting with friends or a weekend getaway can help revitalize parents and strengthen their commitment. An important part of fostering well-being is maintaining a balanced perspective on what most impacts one’s happiness and living with a longer view.

  • Always being single is not necessarily a deprivation because single people get fulfillment from other sources like friends, family, careers, hobbies, etc. They tend to have diverse social networks rather than relying solely on a partner.

  • Research shows that single people are just as healthy and live just as long as married people. They tend to have close relationships with siblings, cousins, lifelong friends that they remain in touch with.

  • To be happy as a single person, one can focus on becoming the best version of oneself through optimism, activities like journaling positive thoughts, envisioning success, and recalibrating negative thoughts.

  • Optimism helps one pursue goals actively and persist through challenges. It also allows for realistic assessments of what goals are practical versus giving up unrealistic ones while focusing on positive aspects of one’s life.

  • The key is having fulfilling relationships overall rather than relying solely on a romantic partnership, and cultivating self-assurance, interests and support networks beyond just a partner.

  • Many Americans are dissatisfied or burnt out with their jobs, feeling that their work is no longer satisfying or that professional success has eluded them. This can lead to a crisis of questioning one’s abilities and motivation.

  • A common myth is that finding the “right” or perfect job will lead to happiness. However, research shows there are many reasons for job dissatisfaction that have little to do with the job itself.

  • People tend to adapt hedonically to their jobs over time, leading them to take their work for granted and feel apathetic or bored. This contributes to a sense that one would be happier doing something else.

  • Finding a new career is one option, but another is to identify how much dissatisfaction stems from personal factors like adaptation versus problems with the actual job. Steps like finding new challenges, focusing on passion areas, and shifting perspective can help reignite interest and satisfaction without necessarily changing careers. Accepting change and imperfection is also important for well-being related to work.

The key idea is that while job changes may help some, the “perfect job” myth underestimates how personal factors influence work satisfaction over time, and non-career steps can also help address work-related unhappiness and crisis. An open and realistic mindset is important.

  • People tend to adapt rapidly to positive changes in their work situations, like a new job or promotion. Initially they feel very satisfied, but satisfaction drops back down to baseline levels within about a year.

  • This is due to hedonic adaptation - we get used to both pleasures and positives in our lives over time. Our expectations also rise, so we feel less satisfied even with the same level of benefits.

  • Frequent job switching seeking new satisfaction may not be the solution, as adaptation will just repeat itself.

  • Some ways to combat adaptation and rising expectations include: re-experiencing what your old/less satisfying work was like periodically; keeping a gratitude journal focusing on benefits; savoring positive moments; limiting aspirations; and maintaining non-work sources of satisfaction outside of the job.

  • By tamping down desires and not feeling constantly entitled to more, we can potentially stay happier in our current roles rather than feeling the need for constant change seeking more. Managing expectations is key to warding off decreases in work satisfaction over time from hedonic adaptation.

Here are the key points made in the summary:

  • Spending and consumption habits can be re-experienced to appreciate one’s current situation more by recalling less fortunate past times. Visiting less preferable workplaces of others can also foster appreciation.

  • Keeping a gratitude journal helps maintain perspective and prevents expectations from becoming too high. Shifting one’s reference point for a “dream job” to something more realistic also combats inflated expectations.

  • Imagining one’s current workday or job as the “last” encourages taking full appreciation and experiencing things as if for the first time. This, along with other techniques, heightens gratitude for one’s present circumstances.

  • While high expectations fuel performance in specific tasks, they can undermine satisfaction when directed at one’s general career or position. It’s important to differentiate domains when managing expectations.

  • We naturally experience dips in mood and motivation about every 90 minutes during waking hours due to ultradian biological rhythms. Anticipating these cycles could help manage dissatisfaction with one’s job or circumstances.

The overall message is that adopting various cognitive reframing techniques can help cultivate an attitude of appreciation for one’s current job or situation by countering unrealistically high expectations and periodic discontent. Remembering past difficulties or imagining current conditions changing can sustain perspective and satisfaction.

  • Our energy and focus fluctuates in ultradian rhythms, with peaks of vigor followed by 20-minute dips of fatigue and lethargy known as the “ultradian dip.”

  • Business experts advise being aware of these rhythms and using dips as an opportunity to renew focus through brief breaks like power naps, walks, reading, or socializing (not about work). A study found employees who did this reported better engagement, relationships, and revenue.

  • When feeling dissatisfied at work, it’s likely due to an ultradian dip. We should be cautious about overinterpreting short-term negative feelings, as views can change with hindsight. Thoughts of quitting may not persist outside a dip.

  • Our past experiences and future possibilities are like “movie reels” we can edit and change perspectives on. We should consider evidence for both optimistic and pessimistic views rather than being biased towards negative interpretations.

  • We often compare ourselves unfavorably to others’ perceived successes and accomplishments. But we should focus on meeting our own needs rather than relative comparisons, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy despite real achievements. Learning not to be affected by social comparisons is important for satisfaction.

The passage describes several studies conducted by the author on social comparison and happiness. The studies found that unhappy individuals base their self-worth more on comparisons to others, feeling happier when their peer does worse than them and less happy when their peer does better. Happy individuals are less impacted by comparisons, feeling good about their own success regardless of others.

The habit of social comparison begins early in life from being compared to siblings, classmates, and parents. While comparisons are unavoidable, they often make us feel bad since there is always someone better off. The goal is to rely less on others and more on personal standards when evaluating self-worth.

The passage then discusses the pursuit of goals and dreams. Many believe happiness comes from achievement, but research finds people are happier during the pursuit and striving, rather than just the achievement. Enjoying the journey is more important than realizing the end goal. Goal pursuit provides structure, meaning, mastery and a sense of progress - all of which contribute to happiness. The key is to savor accomplishments along the way before moving on to new goals.

The passage discusses motivation and sustained effort towards long-term goals. It argues that intrinsic motivation, or pursuing goals because they inherently interest and fulfill one, leads to greater success and happiness compared to extrinsic motivation like pursuing wealth, fame, or approval from others.

To develop intrinsic motivation, the key is choosing personally meaningful goals that align with one’s values and interests. Questions are provided to help evaluate goals. Public commitments and social support from close ones can also help sustain motivation. Taking risks instead of always choosing comfort and security allows for growth.

Understanding hedonic adaptation, how people adapt to new situations, is important to manage job satisfaction over time. Strategies can help reduce boredom, or a job change may be needed if efforts fail. Happiness comes from within, not external achievements, so focusing less on comparing achievements to others allows being happier now. Developing an informed perspective, not reacting emotionally, helps make career decisions.

The passage discusses whether money can buy happiness or if it is possible to be happy without much money. It notes that while income and happiness are correlated, the relationship is not very strong. Having more money provides comforts and security but does not necessarily lead to greater daily feelings of joy.

Moreover, money has a much stronger impact on happiness for poorer people than for richer people, as basic needs must be met first. While wealthier nations tend to be happier, it is unclear if wealth directly causes this. Despite rising incomes in many countries, reported happiness levels have not increased, likely because of rising aspirations and social comparisons.

However, the passage argues it is possible to have a good quality of life with less money by applying the virtue of thrift - using limited resources efficiently through industry, moderation, and fulfilling activities. Thrift is about thriving, not just cutting costs. With a thrifty mindset, one can extract maximum happiness from a small budget.

  • Thrift has been promoted by many influential figures throughout history as a way to spend less while enjoying more. Practicing thrift can make people feel good, in control of their finances, and lead to long term success.

  • Getting into debt should be avoided, as the pleasure of purchases is outweighed by the stress and anxiety of owing money. It’s better to pay off existing debt before non-essential spending.

  • Research shows that spending money on experiences rather than possessions leads to greater happiness. Experiences are more social, less prone to comparisons, can be cherished memories over time, and help people feel accomplished.

  • Small, frequent pleasures are better for happiness than infrequent big splurges. Savoring positive experiences in moderation draws them out and makes them relatively inexpensive to enjoy. Overall, the article advocates practicing thrift through paying off debt, prioritizing experiences over possessions, and enjoying small pleasures on a regular basis.

  • Having less can increase happiness in several ways. It encourages people to pull together and support each other. Families bonded more during hard times like the Great Depression through low-cost activities.

  • Financial difficulties can shift perspectives and priorities towards what really matters like family, health, community service. It fosters gratitude for what you still have.

  • Hard times provide opportunities to pursue passions one didn’t have time for before. It motivates working harder to keep a job.

  • With less money, people get creative - making do with what they have, bartering, fixing items instead of replacing them. It leads to learning hard and soft skills.

  • Renting items instead of buying can be cheaper and provide variety. Rentals avoid costs of repairs and losses associated with owned items. Renters are found to be happier than homeowners.

  • Small, inexpensive treats and acts of kindness can boost happiness in meaningful ways over time through gratitude and social connection.

  • Living with less challenges consumerism and materialism. It fosters appreciation for family, nature, experiences over possessions. Overall, the passage argues that having less can paradoxically improve lives in important ways.

  • Economic downturns often spur innovation as people start new businesses or barter systems out of necessity with little resources. This gives freedom to take risks and rebuild.

  • Having fewer possessions means consuming less, which benefits the environment. With less money, people waste less, reuse items, and are more efficient (e.g. putting on a sweater instead of turning on heat).

  • While living with less has benefits, it can also involve real hardships and deprivation for those lacking basic needs. The author remembers growing up poor with anxiety and fear of financial catastrophe.

  • However, their family also had positives like eating dinner together every night, talking for hours. With better preparation, hardship could have been eased.

  • For some, reduced circumstances happen through no major fault, while others blame poor choices. But causes are often complicated.

  • Even if attaining wealth or dreams, happiness may not last as imagination exceeds reality. Success is never as thrilling inexperience as anticipated due to hedonic adaptation. This undermines the joy of achieving prosperity.

  • Understanding how positive events like career peaks don’t sustain happiness can help prepare for that reality and continue thriving instead of becoming discontent.

  • The passage discusses different people’s experiences after achieving success or wealth. For some, the sense of accomplishment quickly faded and left them feeling empty.

  • A squash champion felt unfulfilled after his initial victory and continued training for a higher goal. A plastic surgeon felt empty and underwent meditation, emerging with a desire to help underserved communities.

  • Others struggled with problems like drug abuse after acquiring wealth at a young age or feelings of guilt over success. An actress feared losing her magic and wanted to kill herself if her career declined.

  • Psychologically, people get used to increases in wealth or status over time as their spending and expectations rise. Success can also disrupt people’s lives and roles.

  • Materialism is mentioned as an unhealthy response, as acquiring more possessions fails to provide lasting happiness. Highly materialistic individuals score poorly on well-being and relationship measures.

  • In summary, while wealth can initially boost satisfaction, people quickly adapt and may respond negatively if success is not enduring or brings unforeseen challenges to their identity, relationships or worldview. Materialism is an unhealthy way to try to maintain happiness that derives from wealth or status.

The passage discusses how money can make us happy if spent wisely, based on psychological research. It recommends spending money on need-satisfying activities that provide competence, relatedness, and autonomy, such as developing skills, spending time with friends and family, or helping others. These purchases are less likely to lead to addiction and can spark upward spirals of positivity.

It also recommends spending money on others rather than ourselves. Studies found that spending money on gifts and donations for others, rather than bills or gifts for ourselves, correlated with and causally led to greater happiness. This is because helping others boosts self-esteem, social connection, and appreciation, while distracting from own problems.

Finally, it suggests using money to free up time for meaningful activities like relationships, hobbies, volunteering, and experiences that people often regret not having more of at the end of life. While increasing wealth often means more work hours in the US, spending on labor-saving services can create leisure for happiness-inducing pursuits.

The passage discusses how life’s significant turning points, such as receiving a dire health diagnosis, can feel like a crisis that undermines one’s happiness. It acknowledges that some events are beyond our control and “slam us” rather than awaken us gently.

It shares an anecdote from Elizabeth Edwards’ memoir about learning her breast cancer had returned, recalling vivid details of that devastating moment. She realized she could no longer deny her cancer might take her life.

The key idea is that while some major life events feel like they preclude happiness, with the right strategies one can find healthier ways to respond to life’s passages and revelations, even those as difficult as a serious health diagnosis, and still pursue happiness. The chapter aims to reconsider beliefs that equate certain outcomes with an inability to be happy.

  • When facing a serious health diagnosis, our natural reaction is often to despair and focus only on the negative implications. However, research shows we have more control over our mindset and experience than we think.

  • We selectively pay attention to certain things in our environment while ignoring others. What we focus on shapes our reality and experience. Even shared experiences can be perceived very differently by different people based on their attentional focus.

  • Maintaining a positive focus when facing challenges like illness takes deliberate effort. A Holocaust survivor explained how he was able to find moments of normalcy by spending as much time as possible focusing on daily coping and challenges rather than the horrors of his situation.

  • Taking control of our attentional focus can be taxing and deplete mental resources. Spending time in nature can help “rest” our attention and rebuild our ability to maintain a positive outlook. Maintaining attentional control involves shifting our habitual patterns of thought. Overall, how we choose to perceive our situation is largely within our power to dictate our experience.

  • Natural environments like being in nature require little mental effort to engage with and allow for reflection, helping to replenish our mental resources. They provide more peace and relaxation compared to urban/artificial settings which are full of distractions that capture our attention forcefully.

  • Studies show that spending 15 minutes strolling in nature leads to more pleasure and better ability to solve problems than being in urban settings.

  • Meditation is another way to train the mind and improve the ability to redirect attention. Common techniques involve mantras, focusing on breathing, or observing thoughts passively. Practice improves focus, engagement, and disengagement abilities.

  • Regular meditation provides benefits like enhanced empathy, stress relief, immune boosts, and intelligence gains. Importantly, it significantly improves attentional abilities.

  • Experiencing positive emotions through small daily pleasures and indulgences provides psychological, social, physical benefits and generates upward spirals of greater success. These small moments accumulate over time to impact happiness and health.

  • Research shows that frequent, regular low-intensity positive experiences are more beneficial than occasional intense positives. Behaviors like regular exercise and religious services reliably boost well-being over the long-term.

  1. Short bursts of happiness, tranquility or delight are not trivial and can have significant benefits, even during difficult times. It’s the frequency of positive experiences, not just their intensity, that matters for well-being.

  2. Understanding what brings you joy and making time for these positive experiences regularly can build an “hedonic tool” that serves you well during crises or when facing challenges like negative health news.

  3. It is permissible and beneficial to experience happiness even amid suffering, either your own or others’. Being happier makes one better able to help others through having more energy, motivation, and healthier functioning.

  4. Negative emotions also serve purposes like motivating action against injustice or preparation for threats. But suffering itself is never good and leads to more unnecessary pain. One should focus on reducing unjust suffering for all.

  5. In coping with bad news, people initially mobilize resources through thoughts, emotions and behaviors, followed by a long-term tendency to minimize the threat through reversal of those initial responses. Both phases are important natural reactions.

The passage discusses finding purpose, meaning, and optimal responses in difficult life situations. It presents a model for coping with bad news from the doctor, suggesting watchful waiting, active change, or acceptance depending on factors like severity and controllability. Having social support from close relationships is emphasized as incredibly important for health and well-being when dealing with crises or diagnoses. Pursuing meaningful goals and leaving a legacy can help manage the anxiety of mortality. Building purpose and fulfilling life tasks are recommended for those questioning their life’s meaning or significance. Overall the passage argues that while initial responses may be necessary, finding deeper meaning and acceptance is healthier in the long run for coping with challenges.

  • Jesse sells age-appropriate items like shirts, candy, toys to raise money. For each item sold, she gives another away to a young patient at the hospital.

  • Her goal is to boost patients’ spirits and encourage them to never give up as they battle illnesses, even though the final outcome is uncertain.

  • Finding life purpose can be rooted in helping others who are suffering, but it doesn’t have to be. Purpose can also come from linking our existence to things outside ourselves like our family, institutions we volunteer for, causes we support, or God.

  • This gives us a sense of being part of something larger and provides meaning and security, even in the face of illness or death. No matter the medical prognosis, feeling connected to something that outlives us can guide our life and make us feel centered.

  • Reflecting on lost promises and regrets can provide a new perspective, helping us understand ourselves better and set new priorities. However, intensely pondering what could have been risks making us feel miserable.

  • We must acknowledge our regrets, which is necessary for growth but also painful. The key is to then commit to new goals and focus on future possibilities rather than dwelling on the past.

  • Rumination about negatives is usually unhelpful, prolonging distress. But deliberate, analytical reflection can provide insights. We should reflect in a thoughtful, non-circular way using writing or lists, rather than sink into uncontrollable rumination.

  • Considering “counterfactuals” or alternative life paths (“what if?”) can paradoxically increase life satisfaction and meaning by appreciating key events and transitions, rather than making us feel life is arbitrary. Methodical consideration of counterfactuals is preferable to neurotic overthinking.

  • People tend to regret things they didn’t do (inactions) more than things they did (actions). It’s easier to rationalize actions but not inactions.

  • Regrets over inactions intensify over time as the original reasons for not acting fade. Regrets over actions fade more quickly.

  • The consequences of inactions are imagined to be limitless, while consequences of actions are usually finite and not that serious.

  • Inactions involve unfinished opportunities with no second chances, keeping those missed moments alive longer due to the Zeigarnik effect, where unfinished tasks are more memorable. Actions are complete and belong more to the past.

  • Writing about life experiences can help achieve “autobiographical coherence” by bringing meaning and order to significant events, allowing one to accept regrets. It involves selectively remembering memories that make sense of one’s life story.

  • To prevent regret over inactions, one solution proposed is to take one risk or do something unexpected each month, getting out of one’s comfort zone.

The passage discusses regret over inactions and missed opportunities in life. It argues that to minimize regret, one should take more risks and seize new opportunities whenever possible. Specifically, it recommends aiming to take one risk per month to get out of one’s comfort zone and seek out new experiences.

It acknowledges that taking risks does not mean being reckless, but simply trying something new like a class, changing one’s daily routine, or putting oneself out there more socially. The reasoning is that risks can lead to pleasant surprises and help one discover new talents, strengths or preferences. Even failures from risks can boost self-confidence over time by helping one see themselves as someone who takes initiative.

The passage also discusses how having too many choices can paradoxically lead to greater regret. It notes people fall into two categories - “maximizers” who seek the perfect choice, and “satisficers” who are content with a good enough option. Maximizers tend to be less happy with their choices despite spending more time and effort on research. The passage offers advice like comparing oneself less to others, keeping a time diary to limit decision making, and relying more on expert opinions rather than over-analyzing choices. It stresses accepting non-perfection as inevitable.

The passage discusses two myths about aging and happiness. The first myth is that we can judge what the “best years” of our life were. However, the passage argues we cannot truly know which years were best until our entire life is over. Even if we could accurately evaluate past years, we have no way of knowing what our future holds.

The second myth is that youth is always happier than older age. However, research shows that peoples’ satisfaction levels change at different life stages for complex reasons.

The passage also discusses how we think about positive memories from the past. Recalling good memories can either enrich our present lives (an “endowment effect”), or make current experiences seem worse by comparison (a “contrast effect”). Research found generally happy people tend to experience endowment effects from positive past memories, while unhappy people experience contrast effects.

Overall, the passage argues dismantling myths about aging and happiness, and focusing on endowment rather than contrast effects of past experiences, can help people feel more content at all stages of life.

  • The study found that chronically happy people tended to reflect positively on past experiences, contrasting their current better life. Chronically unhappy people contrasted the present negatively with rosier past events.

  • The outcomes of life events are not predetermined - we have some control over how we remember and interpret the past.

  • The ways we choose to remember past events can impact both our immediate and long-term happiness. Contrasting the present negatively with a rosier past can diminish happiness.

  • When reflecting on happy past events, it’s best to replay and relive them rather than analyze them. Analyzing takes the fun out. For unhappy past events, it’s better to analyze and make sense of them rather than replay.

  • To stay happy, we should sustain positive past experiences in our memories but also pursue meaningful goals for the future. Goals should be intrinsically motivating, harmonious with other goals, satisfy innate needs, align with our values, be attainable and flexible, and focus on attainment rather than avoidance.

  • Goal pursuit itself can increase happiness regardless of outcomes. The key is choosing wise goals and continually redirecting goals for maximum happiness. Dwelling only on achievement can diminish happiness after the fact.

The passage discusses the notion that our best years are often not behind us as we age, but rather are still ahead in the second half of life. Several key points:

  • Research shows older people are generally happier and less stressed than younger people, experiencing more positive emotions. The peak of well-being may occur around ages 60-80.

  • As we age and see life as more finite, we prioritize meaningful relationships and invest more in what really matters like family over new experiences. This stability and orientation to the present leads to greater happiness.

  • Later life still has challenges like loss, but also benefits like a positivity bias that focuses on positives in life. Others also tend to treat older individuals with more respect.

  • Rather than dwell on lost past youth, we have the choice to mentally shift focus to future goals and opportunities in the second half of life as a way to stay motivated and flourishing as we age. Maintaining an open, “prepared mind” is recommended.

  • The author then relates her own experience of unexpectedly having a third child at age 44 to show how forecasts of reduced happiness don’t always match reality, as psychological and support systems help with adaptation.

  • The author thanks various collaborators, students, research assistants, and editors who provided support and feedback throughout the writing process of the book. They played a crucial role in refining the content and ideas.

  • Special thanks goes to Ken Sheldon for over a decade of invaluable research partnership. Graduate students also made significant contributions.

  • The team at Penguin Press, including Ann Godoff and Lindsay Whalen, provided excellent editorial guidance to make the scientific concepts accessible to general readers.

  • Friends and family, particularly the author’s husband and children, were a constant source of happiness, inspiration and support during the challenging process of balancing work and family life while writing the book.

  • The overall goal of the book is to synthesize over 700 scientific references on positive psychology topics like happiness, success and resilience, and advise readers on shifting perspectives about life’s challenges based on empirical evidence rather than myths and misconceptions.

This summary covers research on the topic of marriage and committed relationships in relation to happiness and life satisfaction.

Some key points:

  • People tend to overestimate how happy marriages or committed relationships will make them. Hedonic adaptation occurs as the newness and excitement fades over time.

  • Passionate love typically declines after the first 1-3 years of a relationship as companionship and commitment increase in importance over time.

  • Unrealistic relationship expectations can help maintain relationship satisfaction by preventing the acceptance of inevitable changes in feelings over time.

  • Maintaining variety, novelty and relationship-enhancing behaviors like gratitude can help prevent hedonic adaptation and sustain happiness in relationships over the long term. Changing behaviors rather than circumstances is important.

The summary cites several influential studies and researchers in this area, including Lyubomirsky, Sternberg, Huston, and Sheldon, and discusses concepts like the sustainable happiness model, hedonic adaptation prevention, and varieties of love.

Here is a summary of the key empirical papers on well-being and positive psychology interventions mentioned in the prompt:

(1) Emmons and McCullough (2003) found that asking participants to count blessings led to increases in well-being compared to counting burdens or a control condition.

(2) Lyubomirsky et al. (2005) tested different happiness-increasing activities and their effects on well-being.

(3) Boehm et al. (2011) longitudinally compared the effectiveness of happiness interventions for Anglo Americans versus Asian Americans.

(4) Lyubomirsky et al. (2011) conducted a longitudinal experiment to boost well-being through positive activities.

(5) Seligman et al. (2005) provided empirical validation of different positive psychology interventions.

(6) Froh et al. (2008) studied the effects of counting blessings on well-being in early adolescents.

(7) King (2001) found health benefits from writing about life goals.

(8) Bryant et al. (2005) showed boosts in happiness from positive reminiscence.

The papers provide experimental and longitudinal evidence for the effectiveness of positive interventions like gratitude, mindfulness, kindness and use of character strengths in increasing well-being.

Here is a summary of some key sources discussing the costs and benefits of daily sacrifice in intimate relationships:

  • Impett et al. (2008) found that maintaining sexual desire in relationships requires approaching intimacy goals rather than avoidance goals. This suggests daily sacrifice like compromising needs can promote desire if done in a positive, approach-oriented way.

  • Gottman & Silver (1999) provide evidence that making small daily sacrifices through acts like doing dishes or giving backrubs helps build goodwill in a relationship over time.

  • Sharing daily struggles and sacrifices with a partner can foster intimacy and closeness according to Gable et al. (2004). Expressing appreciation for a partner’s sacrifices may have interpersonal and intrapersonal benefits.

  • Daily acts of service like running errands can promote relationship well-being even if a sacrifice according to studies on the Michelangelo phenomenon (Rusbult et al., 2009; Drigotas et al., 1999). Partners sculpt each other into better selves through daily support.

In summary, research indicates that making small, regular sacrifices in relationships through acts of service, compromise, and shared struggles can promote intimacy, sexual desire, closeness, and relationship well-being, especially if done with an approach orientation and expressions of appreciation. Daily sacrifices may require effort in the short-term but build closer bonds over the long-run.

Here are summaries of the key articles:

(1) Neural pathways link social support to attenuated neuroendocrine stress responses. This 2007 neuroimaging study found that social support is associated with reduced activity in the brain regions involved in stress response. Having social support attenuates the body’s stress response.

(2) Loneliness, social network size, and immune response to influenza vaccination in college freshmen. This 2005 health psychology study found that students with smaller social networks (less social integration) had a weaker antibody response to the flu vaccine, indicating weaker immune response, compared to students with larger social networks. Less social connection is associated with worse health outcomes.

(3) Problems and prospects for the social support-reactivity hypothesis. This 1998 review article discusses theories about how social support impacts health outcomes by reducing physiological stress responses. It identifies open questions and considers avenues for future research on the link between social ties, stress responses, and health.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “marital dissolution affects children: Variations by age and sex. Developmental Psychology, 25, 540–49”:

  • The article studies how parental divorce impacts children of different ages and sexes.

  • It finds that younger children (ages 6-8) exhibited more behavioral issues after parental divorce compared to older children (ages 9-11). Younger children had more acting out behaviors, aggression, depression, and withdrawal.

  • Boys generally experienced more negative effects of divorce than girls across all age groups. Boys showed more behavioral and emotional problems like aggression, delinquency, low self-esteem, poorer academic performance.

  • Girls were also negatively impacted by divorce but showed more internalizing issues like anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem compared to externalizing problems in boys.

  • The effects varied based on child’s age and sex, with younger boys faring the worst in terms of behavior and emotional problems after parental divorce. Older children and girls adjusted somewhat better on average.

  • The study provides evidence that parental divorce has differential psychological impacts on children based on their age and sex, with younger boys at highest risk for negative outcomes.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • The article presents a naturalistic investigation of how online users seek happiness by researching various life domains like work, relationships, health, spirituality etc.

  • It examines various studies on topics like marital status and well-being, effects of optimism and goal adjustment on quality of life, benefits of positive emotions and traits etc.

  • In the work and money section, it discusses findings from surveys on time use, factors affecting work hours and stress levels.

  • Under the sub-section on finding the right job, it notes happiness levels across occupations from surveys. It also discusses research showing how job satisfaction changes over time (honeymoon-hangover effect) and how external factors like location have little impact on long-term well-being.

  • The article references benefits of pursuing meaningful goals, shows how gratitude practices can boost happiness, and notes importance of rest and work-life balance for well-being and engagement. It summarizes various studies examining concepts like optimism, goal adjustment, self-regulation through goal-setting etc.

So in summary, the article provides a naturalistic review of research on how online users pursue different life domains in their quest for happiness, drawing on literature from positive psychology, surveys and studies on topics like work, relationships, traits and behaviors.

  • The chapter discusses the relationship between money/income and happiness. While wealth provides comfort and security, having more money does not necessarily buy more happiness after basic needs are met.

  • Studies have found a correlation between higher income and life evaluations, but not with positive emotions. Wealth helps fulfill material needs but not psychospiritual needs.

  • Money provides diminishing marginal returns for well-being - each additional dollar of income increases happiness less. Wealth also does not shield from negative life events like health problems or divorce.

  • Very wealthy individuals do not report higher day-to-day happiness than middle class individuals. While poverty reduces well-being, increases in wealth beyond a moderate income do little to improve emotional well-being.

  • Cultural factors also shape the money-happiness link. Wealthier societies tend to be happier not due to wealth itself but because they tend to be more tolerant, trusting and generous - which fosters well-being.

So in summary, the chapter discusses research showing that while money provides basic needs and life evaluations, greatly increasing wealth does little to improve actual happiness and positive emotions in daily life. Cultural and social factors may influence the money-happiness relationship more than wealth itself.

Here are brief summaries of the key points from the sources cited in the passage:

(1) Academic Press. No summary available as no specific publication is identified. Academic Press is a publishing company.

(2) Easterlin et al. (2010). Finds that while personal happiness rises with income for poor people, beyond a moderate income higher national income is not associated with greater happiness at the national level. Replicates the Easterlin paradox.

(3) Diener et al. (2011). Argues that Easterlin is both right and wrong - income increases happiness within nations but additional economic growth does not necessarily increase happiness between nations once basic needs are met, due to adaptation and social comparisons.

(4) Diener & Biswas-Diener (2002). No specific publication identified. Likely discusses the Easterlin paradox and implications.

(5) Oswald (1997). Finds a correlation between well-being and economic performance at the macro level, challenging the Easterlin paradox. However, this relationship has been challenged by later studies.

In summary, the sources discuss the “Easterlin paradox” - that happiness rises with individual income but additional economic growth does not translate to greater national happiness, likely due to adaptation and social comparisons. They present evidence both supporting and challenging this paradoxical finding.

  • Chapter 8 discusses how focusing one’s attention on positive experiences can help overcome negative challenges like receiving a diagnosis of a serious illness. It describes research showing people have some control over what they attend to.

  • Nature can provide restorative benefits by allowing attentional fatigue to dissipate. interacting with nature is linked to improved cognitive performance and connectedness to nature.

  • Mindfulness meditation practices like compassion meditation have been shown to regulate neural circuitry of emotion and produce beneficial changes in brain and immune function. Short-term meditation training can improve attention, self-regulation, and perceptual abilities.

  • Positive emotions like joy and love have an undoing effect on negative emotions and associated physiological arousal. Gratitude practices have been shown to increase well-being and decrease depression/stress. Spending on others rather than material goods provides more enduring happiness.

So in summary, it discusses focusing on positives, connecting with nature, mindfulness, gratitude, and prosocial spending as ways to overcome challenges to happiness. Research supports these practices producing cognitive, emotional, and health benefits.

Here is a summary of the book Positivity by Barbara L. Fredrickson:

The book discusses positivity and its influence on well-being and performance. It explores how positive emotions like joy, gratitude, serenity and interest can broaden peoples’ minds and unlock their potential.

Some key points discussed in the book include:

  • Positive emotions broaden people’s thought-action repertoires, which leads to greater resilience and creativity. This builds personal resources over time.

  • Positivity can increase life satisfaction by building psychological resilience. It helps people cope with stress and adversity in adaptive ways.

  • Increasing positive emotions through activities like gratitude journaling or acts of kindness has been shown to improve well-being and health over time.

  • Positivity has benefits like increased mindfulness, creativity, social bonds, and life achievement. It helps people flourish and reach their full potential.

The book suggests cultivating positivity through daily habits and rewiring cognitions to be more positive. It provides evidence that boosting positivity can improve well-being and performance in various life domains. Overall it promotes applying the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions in everyday life.

Here is a summary of the references cited in the passage:

(1) Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Examines the relationship between goal striving, need satisfaction, and long-term well-being using the self-concordance model.

(2) Sheldon, K. M. (2002). Discusses the self-concordance model of healthy goal pursuit and how personal goals should accurately represent the individual.

(1) King, L. A. (1996). Discusses motivational context and self-regulation.

(2) Emmons, R. A. (1986). Introduces the personal strivings approach to personality and subjective well-being.

(1) Elliot, A. J., & Sheldon, K. M. (1998). Looks at avoidance personal goals and their relationship to personality and illness.

(2) Elliot, A. J., Sheldon, K. M., & Church, M. A. (1997). Examines avoidance personal goals and subjective well-being.

(3) Elliot, A. J., & McGregor, H. A. (2001). Proposes a 2x2 achievement goal framework.

(1) Lacey et al. (2006).

(2) Hummert et al. (1994). Looks at stereotypes of the elderly held by different age groups.

(3) Nosek et al. (2002). Examines implicit group attitudes harvested from a demonstration website.

(1-5) Provides several empirical examples on the topic of emotion and aging.

(1-3) Cites references examining the positivity effect and emotional patterns in aging.

Discusses theories on socioemotional selectivity and its influence on human development and relationships.

Examines how meaning and understanding of happiness can shift over time and contexts.

(1-5) Reviews literature on pro-hedonic and contra-hedonic motivation across lifespan, socioemotional selectivity theory, and emotion regulation in older age.

Summarizes theories and reviews on the intersection of emotion and cognition in aging, and on emotional well-being across adulthood.

Looks at facial expression recognition across adulthood.

(1-3) Examines social relationships and perceptions in older age.

Here are summaries of the key sections:

  • spending mney on need-satisfying activities, 173–74: Spending money on experiences and activities that satisfy basic human needs like social interaction, learning, and aesthetics can promote more enduring happiness than material purchases.

  • spending money in anticipation of later enjoyment, 177–79: Spending money now with the goal of enjoyment later through anticipating an experience can still lead to adaptation. It’s better to savor experiences in the moment.

  • spending money on others, 174–76: Spending money on others through gifts or charitable giving has been shown to promote more lasting happiness than spending on oneself due to self-focusing and social impact.

  • spending money to buy time, 176–77: Using money to buy back free time through things like housecleaning services can promote happiness by reducing stress, though effects also diminish over time.

  • “fly on the wall” technique, 64–66: Detaching from an upsetting interaction by adopting a neutral third party perspective can help defuse negative emotion and identify constructive solutions.

  • focus, 190–93: Maintaining present-moment focus through mindfulness meditation helps mitigate ruminating on past regrets or future worries and promotes greater well-being.

  • forgiveness, 68–71: Forgiving a partner who has caused hurt is difficult but beneficial for relationships and reduces resentment, while dwelling in hurt sustains it.

  • forsaken goals, exploring, 212–16: Revisiting old hoped-for futures that never came to pass, like through journaling, can provide clarity and acceptance of life paths taken.

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