The Two Techniques You Can Learn From Naturally Happy People


Naturally happy people unconsciously engage in:

  1. Social comparison (or the lack thereof)
  2. Retrospective judgment

Via Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth:

Sonja Lyubomirsky identified ways in which dispositionally happy people think in ways that bolster their moods: social comparison and retrospective judgment.

Even if you’re not a naturally happy person you can use these techniques to increase positive feelings.

So what the heck do those fancy words mean and how can we leverage them?

1) “Social comparison” means don’t compare yourself to others:

Via Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth:

Unhappy people became upset more easily by their own inferior performance, while happy folks virtually ignored how other people performed. In short, Lyubomirsky’s research suggests that more upbeat people tend to engage less in social comparisons, and that they are less sensitive to information about other people’s performance.

Or only compare yourself to those worse off than you:

“Generally if people compare themselves to those who are worse off, they’re going to feel better,” continues Bauer, now a research associate at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a clinical psychologist at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Associates of Toronto. “When they compare themselves to people who are better off, it can make them feel worse.”

2) “Retrospective judgment” means reevaluating events and putting a positive spin on them:

Via Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth:

Lyubomirsky showed that happy people naturally reinterpret events so that they preserve their self-esteem.

This is very effective with the minor problems of everyday life:

Across studies, spouses’ tendencies to form positively biased appraisals of their stressful experiences predicted fewer depressive symptoms over the subsequent 4 years among individuals judged to be facing relatively mild experiences…

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