Authentic happiness is within your grasp

Authentic happiness is within your grasp

By Sharon Johnson

for the Mail Tribune

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” That’s a song-story I use with my two little grandchildren. We sing loudly and clap a lot. After a while, we move to head-bobbing and feet-stomping. All sorts of foolish merriment follows, and we usually end up giggling. If you’re giggling, you are definitely happy.

So – are you? Happy, that is. I am on a mission to help you feel that way by the end of this column.

Research has identified characteristics that correlate with happiness. These include “religious involvement, parenthood, marital status, age, income and proximity to other happy people.”

That means if you’re an older adult and a person of faith, married (with satisfactorily launched children) and some degree of disposable income – you’re off to a good start. Hang around with giggling toddlers and you might have it nailed.

For me, “happiness” is that personal feeling of well-being and contentment. “Full of joy” is actually my favorite definition.

Using a “positive psychology” approach, folks at the University of Pennsylvania have developed tools that assess various character strengths to get to a better understanding of “authentic happiness,” which on its face, looks like a combination of pleasure, engagement and meaning (www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx).

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