Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Staying Happy in Bad Times


Awhile back USA Today published an interesting article as a kind of wrap-up of the four-day annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. Among the happiness talk was how to stay chipper in this economy.

My friend, Robert Wicks, attended and was interviewed for the article. Here is his section in the article (I still get giddy when I recognize my friends among the experts):


Simplicity is a silver lining to the downturn, says psychologist Robert Wicks.

“In the up economy, people were successful, but in many cases, they were missing their lives,” says Wicks, a psychology professor at Loyola University Maryland in Columbia and author of “Bounce: Living the Resilient Life,” out next month.

“They weren’t spending time really enjoying themselves and weren’t spending time with family and friends. The simplicity that’s possible during difficult economic times would not come to the fore if a crisis had not occurred.”


Some research suggests focusing on gratitude can increase happiness.

Some other interesting excerpts:

Experiences trump stuff

Psychologists also have found that being highly materialistic affects happiness, with those who are most concerned about money and possessions actually being less happy.

Keeping too close tabs on the economy, such as daily monitoring of economic indicators that have been on a roller-coaster ride since the recession began, also hinders happiness.

“We find that people whose moods are up and down a lot are less happy. People who are less reactive to every event, in general, are happier,” Diener says.


But what about what money can buy? Previous research has found that using money to pay for something novel, social or experiential brings more happiness than buying things.

Some newer studies confirm these results. San Francisco State University researchers presented findings earlier this year to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, based on what participants said about their purchases.

They said they thought eating out or buying theater tickets was money better spent than on more things, such as a new tech toy or clothing, and the experiential purchase provided greater happiness for themselves and others, regardless of the amount they paid or their income.

Illustration by Jerry Mosemak, USA Today


To read the entire article click here.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Myra Godby

    Love your new photograph!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Skylark

    Robert Wicks makes some interesting points about simplicity and happiness. The point he stresses is that when we make our lives all about “getting there” we miss the simple things in life like family and friends. There is much turmoil in the process of becoming “successful” as the world defines success. Simplifying our lives can actually make them much richer. But it would seem a big factor here is choice…those who choose to simpler lifeststyle might find a certain peace and happiness not available to those upon whom this “simplification” is forced through illness, loss of job, death of loved ones, etc. For those people life may be simpler but it is also a life suddenly turned upside down. Many people in these current times fit the latter category…and are definitely not experiencing much happiness! Witness those in the southern states who have suddenly lost all they had…homes, lives, livlihood, etc because of the destruction wrought by massive tornados…or the same for the Japanese whose lives were so drastically affected by the earthquake/tsunami. These people will have to use diffent approaches to return to their lives a sense of peace and security, two huge components of happiness.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jean

    I admit that I’m finding it incredibly tough to stay chipper, when I can’t find a job, and I keep messing up each interview that I do manage to land. I come out of the interview feeling that I did well…then I never hear back from them. To economize, we eat a LOT of homemade pancake meals…which I may look back on fondly, someday.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Serena

    I find it very difficult to stay positive while my family is going through crisis with a an ill family member and a long hospitalization.All of the family members have different opinions and are in different corners.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment mary primavera

    this article was my words today to my co-workers

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