Lots of things contribute to our happiness, including how well we eat and how much we exercise. Now, the first-ever World Happiness Report (WHR), published in 2012, shows that where we live might also put a smile on our face. The United Nations’ report, which measured social and economic well-being globally, ranks Canada fifth happiest among all nations after Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands.
According to researchers, we all have an innate level of happiness. Just how much we can change this “set point,” or even if it truly is a set point, is hotly debated among experts in positive psychology—a field that focuses on nurturing positive emotions rather than correcting negative ones. Kassam and others contend that notwithstanding emotional lows and highs, sooner or later we tend to revert to our individual happiness set point. This explains why external factors—such as rising levels of income—don’t make us happier.
Other experts, including Randy Paterson, psychologist and director of counselling centre Changeways Clinic in Vancouver, believe it is possible to alter our happiness beyond what we experience on average, by making intentional day-to-day attitude changes and developing certain skills.
At the very least, we can count on the following 10 insights into the science to brighten our day, and possibly point us toward a new path to happiness.