Dr. Happy answers 8 questions on happiness and passion

Dr. Happy answers 8 questions on happiness and passion

Check out this great interview with Dr. Happy from the Swisse.com.au website (HERE)…

It’s all about passion this week on swisse.com. Why are you so passionate about happiness, Dr Happy?

Because of what I know about the Positive Psychology research, which is that people who experience real and meaningful happiness are healthier and live longer. They have better quality relationships and they’re more resilient. They perform better in the workplace and they’re more altruistic and generous. So the more happy people we have in the world, the better the world!

Do you think passion and happiness are linked? How important do you think it is for people to have passions in their lives?

Yes, and very important. Real and meaningful happiness is made up of several variables, including positive emotion, engagement in and with the world, relationships and connectedness, meaning, purpose and achievement. Passion is what drives engagement and achievement, among other things; it’s what we use (or can use when we know how) to apply our strengths and combine them with what we believe in to live a great life.

What about gratitude? How important do you think gratitude is, and why?

It’s very important; and it’s been shown to be one of the key strategies happy people use to live their lives well. Happy people focus more on what they have and less on what they don’t have. They take pleasure in the small things and, as a result, enjoy more of life more often. But gratitude comes in two parts – feeling and expressing. The latter also builds more positive relationships, which, as noted above, is vitally important to genuine health and wellbeing and happiness.

Can you tell us a little bit about positive psychology? What does it mean? What are some of the philosophies behind it?

Positive psychology is the science of living the good life. It’s the study of what’s going well… in ourselves, in others and in the world. It came about as a reaction to the history of psychology, which mostly focused on faults and weaknesses and limitations; on psychopathology and disorders at the expense of strengths and successes and real health and wellbeing. The goal of positive psychology is to help as many people, organisations, institutions and communities thrive and flourish.

Where did your interest in psychology stem from?

At the very beginning I was just interested in people. I loved sport and wondered how the best became the best. Then I looked at people I admired and wondered what made them tick. I was lucky enough to turn this voyeuristic “hobby” into a career!

What do you love about your job? What has it taught you?

I love that I go to work each and every day and do something that I love. I love that I make a difference in people’s lives (and more often it’s a positive difference!). I love that I’m working with a diverse range of interesting individuals and organisations and that I’m able to do this in a variety of ways (therapy, coaching, presenting, facilitating, consulting, writing, etc.). But mostly I love… that I’m helping to make people’s lives better and, accordingly, what I’ve learned is that if you do good you feel good!

Can you tell us about the Happiness Institute? What spurred you to create it?

My background is in clinical psychology, so I specialised in misery before I discovered happiness! But when I couldn’t find anyone else in Australia who was practicing this, I set up The Happiness Institute as a way of “waving the flag” and promoting ideas that I know others would also be excited about. The Happiness Institute was the organisation in Australia specifically devoted to promoting the principles of positive psychology. In fact, it was one of the first in the world… and we’re still one of the largest reaching more people than most others in this area.

Can you give us three tips to help people improve their overall happiness?

Only three! I’d love to give you more, but if limited to three I’d say:

  • Practice gratitude and appreciation each and every day – count your blessings and focus on what you have

  • Build positive relationships because, in short, other people matter

  • Take care of your physical health and wellbeing – eat well, exercise regularly and ensure you get good sleep!

If I can have a few more, I’d also add: set and work towards meaningful goals; find something to believe in; cultivate optimism; identify and utilise your inner strengths; and have fun!