As Kay Cahill Allison explains in her article, “The Power of Positve Psychology: Finding Happiness in a Cold Ocean Stream” (featured on Harvard’s Health Blog), experts have found that people often guess wrong about what will bring them happiness. However, the latest edition of Positive Psychology outlines a number of things that do make people happy – including ‘flow’ states. According to Allison, “To experience flow is to achieve a state of intense absorption in which you lose awareness of time.” (The author gives an example of swimming in “painfully cold” water – an experience that, surprisingly, felt “exhilarating” and left her feeling incredibly happy). Allison’s article also discusses the health value of happiness, citing a 2008 review by Dutch sociologist Ruut Veenhoven that found that happiness appears to protect against illness (the most satisifed of the research participants lived 7.5 – 10 years longer than their less satisfied peers).
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