Monday, March 14, 2005

Psychology Today: Happy Hour

Psychology Today: Happy Hour

. . . Psychologists now believe that many of us can turn the well-being thermostat up or down a few notches by changing how we think about anticipation, memory and the present moment. Our sense of well-being is intimately tied into our perception of time. The problem is that we usually get it wrong. Memory tricks us--we don't remember our experiences properly, and that leaves us unable to accurately imagine the way we'll feel in the future. At the same time, expectations mislead us: We never learn to predict what will make us happy, or how to anticipate the impact of major life experiences.

Focusing on the moment may help us understand how to be happy. Besides, we have a built-in tendency to grow more cheerful as we get older: Aging helps us ignore the negative and shift our attention toward the positive. Finding happiness isn't hopeless--it seems to be just a question of time.

Youth is a downer, it turns out. Young people naturally pay more attention to the negative. Older people are faster


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