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Q: Happiness: What works and what does not? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Happiness: What works and what does not?
Category: Science > Social Sciences
Asked by: nronronronro-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 05 Oct 2002 20:07 PDT
Expires: 04 Nov 2002 19:07 PST
Question ID: 73069
There are many self-help books, seminars, and CD's out there.  I am a
big fan of these.  But it is very hit-and-miss.  Some are practical,
and lead to immediate positive results.  But most are 1 page of
substance "puffed up" into 150 pages of text.

Sooooooo...have any university professors (or Internet rating
services) done research on what works and what does not in self-help?

Specifically, if you wanted to spend $100-$500 to increase your
personal happiness, what program(s) would you buy?

I could always see a psychologist, but would prefer to do this myself.
All comments greatly appreciated.  Thanks!
Subject: Re: Happiness: What works and what does not?
Answered By: angy-ga on 05 Oct 2002 23:53 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi, nronronronro-ga !

A serious study is reviewed in detail at:

Called "Finding FLow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life 
" by Dr. Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, the review by "owling" in part

"Dr. Csikszentmihalyi has conducted some very interesting studies on
happiness, work, and flow. One of his favorite methods of studying
people's attitudes and feelings is the Experience Sampling Method, or
ESM. The idea is that the people participating in the study wear
pagers or programmable watches that signal them at random times. When
the signal goes off, the person writes down various things like where
she is, what she's doing, and how she feels (rated on various scales).
Some of the things that get rated are motivation, happiness,
concentration, self-esteem, and so on.

Various charts and graphs appear throughout the book to illustrate the
professor's points, and he's very good about saying when results can
be interpreted in various ways (and when other people have interpreted
them differently than he does).

There's a great deal of material here on what makes people happy and
why. Many things that impact on our feelings are discussed. Solitude,
challenges, our skills, leisure time, relationships, family, religion,
and so on are all addressed by the good professor. He approaches
everything from the unique perspective of flow being the peak
experience rather than a subjectively defined "happiness". He brings
up the idea that leisure time, when used for passive activity (such as
TV watching), or as a time to do nothing at all, can actually be
psychologically damaging when we engage in too much of it. Not because
TV is somehow corrupting or mind-rotting, but simply because we tend
to be psychologically healthier when we engage in active goals, with
motivation and interest. "

Tom G. Stevens PhD, Psychologist, from the Counseling and
Psychological Services in the Division of Student Services of
California State University, Long Beach has a SUCCESS and HAPPINESS
WEB SITE which is easily the most scholarly site I found , at

It features free very extensive self help resources,  links and an
on-line questionnaire:

"1. SHAQ CARES Assessment and Recommendations
The Success and Happiness Attributes Questionnaire (SHAQ) is a
Computer Assessment and Recommendation Expert System (CARES) that is
based upon research on more than 4,000 people. In our research SHAQ
scales correlate significantly with (1) reported health, (2) lower
depression, anxiety, and anger, and (3) measures of success and
happiness in all life areas--including relationships, career, college,
spiritual, self-development, and overall life happiness. In many cases
the correlations are substantial (r= .30 to .70).1
SHAQ can automatically assess a wide variety of personal attributes
and "emotional intelligence" factors ......"

This seems to be properly researched, and the price (free) is
certainly right !

I couldn't resist trying it out; it took just over half an hour, and
produced a detailed printable thirtyfive page report, which pointed to
specific resources that I might find useful.

Clicking on the button for "self-help resources" at the top of the
page, produced an extensive index of topics, with each topic, when
investigated, having a series of links of its own.

Scroll down to the bottom of the home page for a link to Dr. Stevens's
other site "You can choose to be happy"  or link from the "How to be
happy" topic, or go direct to:

where a free downloadable 336 page book of the same name is available,
described as: "A self-development program to help you get control of
your emotions, your relationships, and your life. You can read
chapters out-of-order to gain knowledge of specific topics. "

There are other self-help materials also available here, and Dr.
Stevens also provides a page of links to other self-help resources
that is not as extensive as the one on his SHAQ site.

Chuck Falcon, whose impressive biography is at:

believes that " People have a right to basic counseling advice without
having to pay for expensive psychotherapy to get some of it."

Sample chapters from hisbook "A Family Desk Reference to Psychology"
which apprently "Clearly Describes How to Find Happiness and True
Love," - among other things, are at:

The article on depression seems very competent.

Mental Health Matters (which has an unfortunate logo of faceless
people) mostly deals with dealing with mental illness in a clear and
practical way, but has a helpful general links page at:

Links include Adam Khan's book "Self-help Stuff that Works" with
several chapters on-line at:

and "32 Keys: a collection of ideas about life", free to read online

The book "Happiness: The Nature and Nurture of Joy and Contentment"
by Dr. David Thoreson Lykken, is available from Amazon at:

and is currently being bundled with "The Pursuit of Happiness" for a
further discount.

There's a free five class lesson at:

where Bob Scheinfeld claims "You'll find this site especially valuable
if you've tried lots of self-help approaches before but haven't
produced the consistent and lasting results you long for." Read his
own story to see if his approach appeals to you (and see a photo of
his dogs).

We seem to live in a society in which anyone who is not seen to be
happy, is considered to be ill ! I think it's sometimes as well to
remember that it was "the pursuit of happiness" which was considered
to be the "right", not the having of happiness. And that was only in
the US. Most of the rest of the world is content with "life" and
"liberty", when it can get them.

You ask what course I'd invest money in? I'd start with the free
resources and the free chapters before selecting, but I'd probably opt
for Yoga or something similar combining meditation, light exercise and
interaction with people, all of which I miss out on as a busy
self-employed person working from a home office in front of a

Good luck in the quest !

Search terms:
"research self help happiness"
"research academic self help happiness"
nronronronro-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Fantastic answer. I feel better already.  Thank you, Angy.
Have a terrific day!  Ron

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