3 emerging insights about happiness

3 emerging insights about happiness

via the Greater Good by Kira Newman

Last month, researchers from over 60 countries gathered at the International Positive Psychology Association’s 6th World Congress in Melbourne, Australia, to share cutting-edge insights on the science of well-being.

Their findings added depth and complexity to our understanding of the major keys to a flourishing life. In Melbourne, we heard about when kindness makes us happier—but also when it doesn’t. We learned how the elderly can be meaningfully engaged in helping others. We discovered many concrete ways to boost our sense of meaning in life, and how cultural differences influence the pursuit of happiness. Researchers also addressed modern obstacles to happiness—from the way we’re hooked on technology to a widespread sense of disconnection and loneliness.

However, there were several insights presented at the World Congress that stood out to me as new or surprising. Here are some of the emerging pathways to well-being that positive psychology is just beginning to explore, and the exciting potential they might hold. 

1. Positive solitude

Researchers have repeatedly found that social connection is one of the keys to happiness. And for many of us, feeling separated from other people translates into a sense of loneliness and disconnection. But does solitude have to be a negative experience? Can time alone feed our well-being? 

Researchers Martin Lynch, Sergey Ishanov, and Dmitry Leontiev at Russia’s National Research University Higher School of Economics have investigated the phenomenon of positive or “productive solitude,” in contrast with the more unpleasant experience of being alone. Productive solitude doesn’t occur because we feel disconnected from others; it’s something that we deliberately seek out. Rather than being lonely or ruminating on negative experiences, we use the solitary time for contemplation, reflection, or creativity.

People who experience positive solitude tend to feel more positive emotions—in particular, the low-energy ones like relaxation and calm. According to research by Leontiev, when these people do find themselves alone, they have a greater sense of pleasure and meaning—and less of a sense of void.

What kind of people enjoy their alone time? Positive solitude seems to come more naturally to those who are more introverted or higher in emotional and psychological maturity.

What if you don’t have those traits? We might see more benefit in solitude if we deliberately schedule alone time for doing something we enjoy, for example, or spend our solitary time in the peaceful and welcoming setting of nature. Future research may uncover other ways for all of us to cultivate new attitudes toward solitude so we can appreciate it more—and be happier for it…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE