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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 7-13

An assessment of the lyubomirsky happiness teaching effectiveness in increasing happiness and life satisfaction in individuals attending Isfahan counseling centers


1 M.A in Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Khorasgan, Iran
2 Faculty Member, Islamic Azad University, Khorasgan, Iran
3 Faculty Member, Isfahan University, Esfahan, Isfahan, Iran
4 M.A Psychology Student, Islamic Azad University, Khorasgan, Iran

Date of Web Publication23-Jul-2015

Correspondence Address:
T Hajimirzalian
M.A in Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Khorasghan, Esfahan, Isfahan
Iran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2395-2555.161415

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  Abstract 

Aim: In today's turbulent world of anxiety, relaxation and comfort is a blessing to all those who desire it. In fact, one of the basic human needs, joy and exhilaration, is to achieve an emotional balance and self and to lead a healthy and vibrant life in society. It brings joy to life and contributes to vitality and mental health and enhancement. A happy man can succeed steep steps over and have a constructive role in society. Research evidence suggests that people tend to have joy in life and satisfaction with life in general as age increases. The present study aims to investigate and compare the effectiveness of Lyubomirsky method in increasing the degree of happiness and life satisfaction among individuals attending Isfahan counseling centers. Materials and Methods: The study is semi-experimental in nature, with control and experimental groups that were given a pre-test and a post-test. The statistical population of the study was 50 individuals who were chosen using a simple random sampling method and put into groups of 25 each. Later, five happiness sessions were held for each experimental group. Data collection was done through three questionnaires, namely demographic information, Oxford and life satisfaction questionnaires. Results: The results of the co-variance analysis indicated that the degree of happiness and life satisfaction seemed to have an increase in experimental groups in comparison to that of control groups.

Keywords: Happiness, life satisfaction, lyubomirsky happiness method


How to cite this article:
Hajimirzalian T, Atashpour SH, Abedi M, Jafari MD. An assessment of the lyubomirsky happiness teaching effectiveness in increasing happiness and life satisfaction in individuals attending Isfahan counseling centers. Eur J Psychol Educ Studies 2015;2:7-13

How to cite this URL:
Hajimirzalian T, Atashpour SH, Abedi M, Jafari MD. An assessment of the lyubomirsky happiness teaching effectiveness in increasing happiness and life satisfaction in individuals attending Isfahan counseling centers. Eur J Psychol Educ Studies [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 May 22];2:7-13. Available from: http://www.ejpes.org/text.asp?2015/2/1/7/161415


  Introduction Top


With the advent of psychology, a great deal of light was shed on negative emotions like depression and anxiety and a lot of books were written on human life pains and burdens instead of paying attention to positive emotions such as life satisfaction and finding a more meritorious and happy life. Today, fundamental changes are being made and the number of psychological articles on happiness and life satisfaction has increased five times more than before in 1980s and almost 7,800 articles are being published on the above-mentioned subjects annually. Along with this, sociologists, planners and expert individuals have become more interested in identifying conditions, characteristics and perspectives that determine the quality of life, especially working life quality. Greek philosophers believed happiness to be nothing but intellectual reflections; one of their popular sayings was that there are no happy fools and unhappy wise in the world. Aristotle knew happiness to be the highest level of goodness and goodness was equivalent to happiness too. Another group of philosophers believed that happiness is acquired through the recognition of truth, taking care of one's health, self-restriction, purification of self from negative emotions, living with others and thinking in privacy. [1] Happiness is defined as the maximum positive emotion and the minimum negative emotion. [2] Happiness is known to be satisfaction, peace of mind, freedom, goodness, having a positive attitude toward life, and an individual's judgment about his life satisfaction. Happiness is referred to as the degree of one's judgment about his life desirability. [3] Happiness is the degree of one's love towards his life. [4] Happiness is a stable mood in which the person selects the most desirable option from among all fulfilled ones on the condition that there is a noble desire among them, which has unexpectedly come to the attention of the person who is experiencing it. [5] According to Lama et al., our most important goal in life is achieving happiness. Whether a person is religious or not, all human beings naturally move toward happiness. [6] Happiness is known to be a subfield of psychology that demonstrates the way a person evaluates his life. This includes, they believe, variables such as life satisfaction, marital satisfaction, positive tempers and emotions together with a lack of depression and anxiety. [7],[8] From their perspective, a person can evaluate his life in two ways, namely; cognitive and emotional. The former helps a person consciously evaluate his whole life or certain aspects of it like his occupation, entertainment, marriage, etc., The latter on the other hand is considered to be judgment about favorable (such as enjoyment, etc.) or unfavorable (such as depression, etc.) emotions and feelings one experiences in interaction with his life. Bradburn [9] found out that happiness is the result of interaction between positive and negative emotions. Activity, social participation and positive social status increase individuals' happiness considerably more than environmental factors. Lama et al., believe that the first step towards happiness is learning. In order for this to happen, we should primarily learn how harmful and useful negative and positive feelings and behaviors are and that such negative feelings are not only harmful for the person himself but also for the whole community and the world as a whole. Therefore, such recognition boosts individuals' will for facing and overcoming those feelings. [6] The beneficial aspects of feelings and positive behaviors come second thereafter. Life satisfaction is a component of happiness per Andrew and Vitty's viewpoint. Life satisfaction is the cognitive-judgment evaluation of one's personal life. Life satisfaction as the total evaluation of life is considered to be the comparison of life conditions with personal goals based on certain preselected criteria when individuals experience high levels of life satisfaction and also the times their life conditions concord the criteria they have selected for themselves. Life satisfaction in other words can be the most comprehensive evaluation one can have toward his life condition. [7] Various factors are involved in life satisfaction. Social interaction, [10] personality factors, [11] income and social levels, [12] and religion are the most influential factors in one's satisfaction of life. [13] Mental health is another factor that has been correlated with life satisfaction. [14],[15] World Health Organization defines mental health as a stable mood with subjective, mental and social signs of health and without any disease symptoms. [16] Nevertheless, mental health is not only the lack of mental diseases but also points to a level of reaction in which a person feels comfortable and easily gets along with his life. Mental health problems that occur due to the inability of a person to get along with his life issues can be the result of unorganized reactions in all four human reacting realms, namely; social behaviors, emotional behavior, health-related issues and occupation. [17] In fact, life satisfaction reflects such issues and that to what extent basic needs are fulfilled and other goals are accessible. Meanwhile fulfillment of basic needs is a priority for those living in less developed conditions, and life satisfaction before adulthood is considered an important psychological variable. Adolescence is generally a period of life in which an individual's sensitivity increases and that is the time goals change. Beliefs are reconsidered with respect to goals and it is when complicated cognitive judgments are done based on a person's active moods, goals and desires, which are newly ignited in him. Since life satisfaction is correlated with one's commitment to goals and obtaining them, creating goals related to social relations, occupation and activities in the society will most probably enable an adolescent to more precisely evaluate and predict the fulfillment of his basic needs like cognitive abilities, which appear in teenage years of life. [18] A body of research indicates that life satisfaction is not a simple reaction of true conditions and events, but individuals' creation and evaluation of them. A number of scholars attending the evaluation of life satisfaction in adults found out that it is better that we make a distinction between personality (internal) and contextual (external) factors affecting a person's perception of happiness. Evidence taken from research on adults in rich societies revealed that life satisfaction is significantly correlated with personality factors, whereas adolescents' life satisfaction mostly reflects what a teenager feels and experiences. [16] Heller [19] concluded that personality traits either affect positive or negative emotions, and therefore they determine one's evaluation of life satisfaction. It seems that a lot of environmental and personality factors are not only related to adults' happiness but also to adolescents' life satisfaction. As an illustration, achieving goals, especially those which are internal will increase life satisfaction in adults and adolescents and lead to positive perceptions. [8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[20] Personality attributes affect both life satisfaction levels and their degrees of change. [21] Numerous studies have revealed that extroversion positively and neurosis negatively correlate with life satisfaction. [7],[8],[9],[10] A variety of theories have tried to stipulate this relation and many of them believe that extroversion and neurosis are good reasons for life satisfaction directly or indirectly. These theories are generally categorized as whole to part approaches, for they emphasize the role of desires or characteristics that lead to differences in life satisfaction and other mental well-being variables in different people. [19] The results of a study by MacCullough and Laughin [22] indicated that life events significantly affect positive and negative emotions and life satisfaction. Also, the effect of daily incidents was more than main life incidents. They found out that negative daily incidents were significantly correlated with positive and negative emotions, whereas only life positive incidents had a significant correlation with life satisfaction. Rigby and Huebner [20] proposed that extroversion and neurosis are the strongest predictors for the five global personality traits of and happiness and conscientiousness are the strongest predictors for the five global personality traits of life satisfaction. Multiple studies show that enjoyment and positive emotions are correlated with high levels of dopamine in brain. This may be because the sensitivity to reward has chemical neurons, which is in line with Gary's theory. Additionally, extroverts may experience higher levels of enjoyment due to the circumstances, which in turn stir happiness. If extroverts are sensitive to rewards and seek them, then they may gear their life conditions in such a way that it will be rewarding for a longer time like long-term friendships, marriage and so on. Extroversion and its natural sensitivity to reward may affect life satisfaction as well. This effect is created through the expansion and maintenance of social contacts which increase the feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction. [21] Researchers conducted a research on different ways of happiness and their relation with life satisfaction among adults. They found out that people get happy in three main ways. 1- Enjoying life, 2- working and activity, and 3- having goal in life each of which are separately correlated with life satisfaction. [23] Those who simultaneously get low scores on the three have less life satisfaction. Rigby and Huebner questioned whether casual attributions play an intermediary role between personality traits (extroversion and emotional stability) and life satisfaction in adolescents. [20] The findings of this study indicated that emotional stability was significantly correlated with life satisfaction in adolescents, whereas no such correlation was found between extroversion and life satisfaction. Mattei and Scayfer found a strong relation between happiness and life satisfaction concept as well as positive mood and happiness. [20] Moradi found out that happiness and humor are highly influential in increasing teaching efficacy and freeing oneself from mental pressures. The importance of happiness can be viewed in the fact that provokes human's interest in different types of things, expands his affiliation with the environment and makes life desirable this way. [24] Lack of happiness leads to depression, pessimism, negative evaluation of incidents, lack of interests towards work, lack of working commitment, addiction to drugs, social abnormalities, increasing violence in social relations, divorce and tendency for foreign cultures. [25] Franice et al., found out that 81% of individuals attending these programs experienced higher levels of happiness. Total 36% of participants claimed that participating in these trainings has helped them experience more happiness and 89% of participants claimed that they have ended their dissatisfactions and have promoted their low mood. [11]

Jokar and Sepehri found that two factors of satisfaction-seeking and maximum-seeking were negative and a significant predictor of happiness. [12]

Moradi found that there is a relationship between happiness and cognitive, social, emotional, and physical aspects of personality. There is a positive correlation between happiness and internal control, optimism, purposefulness and creativity in cognitive aspect, extroversion, altruism, social agreement and positive relationships with others in social aspect. [24]

Considering the importance of happiness and its positive effect in improving the quality of life and their feeling of satisfaction, the present study aims to investigate the effectiveness of a popular happiness increasing method which has a strong theoretical and experimental background and can be easily applied. Also, the question of how it increases one's happiness and life satisfaction is answered. This method is called Lyubomirsky happiness program.

Lyubomirsky behavioral-cognitive theory: Lyubomirsky believed that happiness, experiencing happiness, positive merry feelings are values that bring meaningfulness to life. From his point of view, the stable level of happiness is your happiness level at birth and your current level of happiness on the other hand can vary according to your mindset and behavioral pattern. It doesn't matter at what level of happiness the person is, but that happiness increasing strategies must always be used for creating happiness. Strategies that give goals to individuals, the type of goals that they would take measurements for, create a kind of happiness that is closely related to their goals. This is the mechanism according to which happiness increasing strategies work. Lyubomirsky also states that various strategies are there for helping people in this regard, but he has chosen only 12 of those strategies, which are scientifically supported. [26],[27] The present study aims to investigate the happiness teaching effectiveness in increasing happiness and life satisfaction in individuals attending Isfahan counseling center.

Hypothesis

  • Lyubomirsky's method affects happiness in individuals attending family counseling center (post-test and follow-up stage)
  • Lyubomirsky's method affects life satisfaction in individuals attending family counseling center (post-test and follow-up stage).



  Materials and Methods Top


The study has semi-experimental design with pre-test, post-test, follow-up, experimental and control groups in which the experimental group underwent Lyubomirsky straining as the treatment and the control group did not. Happiness increasing methods were taken as the independent variable and life satisfaction as dependent. The pre-test, post-test and follow-up were conducted before the treatment, four weeks after treatment and six weeks after treatment, respectively.

Participants

The statistical population of the study was all individuals attending Isfahan counseling center. Total 50 individuals were selected using a simple random access sampling method for the sample group (25 individuals were randomly put in each group) and happiness teaching was conducted in five sessions.

Measurement

Data collection method was conducted using three questionnaires, namely; demographic information, Oxford happiness, and Diener life satisfaction questionnaire.

  • Demographic information questionnaire included questions about sex, age, educational and marital status
  • Oxford happiness: In this study, to measure students' levels of happiness, the Oxford happiness questionnaire was used. This scale was a 29-item multiple choice questionnaire, which was scored from 0 to 3. The sum of the scores gave the total score of the scale. It was devised by Argyle et al., [4] with a reported reliability of 0.78 and a validity of -0.52, which was calculated using a divergence method (correlation coefficient of Beck depression scale). [22] Alipour et al., [17] reported the reliability coefficient of this scale to be 0.93 using Cronbach α in Iran. Face and content validities were also questioned from 10 experts in the field (psychologists and psychotherapists), which got validated by them meaning this scale could measure the happiness test properly
  • Diener life satisfaction questionnaire: This inventory was first introduced in 1998 by Pout, Diener and Sue. [7] It is a 15-item questionnaire with three subscales namely; satisfaction of the past, present, and the future. The internal consistency of the questionnaire (α coefficient) and the correlation coefficient with other similar test were 0.93 and 0.89, respectively. [15]


Intervention method

Lyubomirsky's happiness program has 12 principles with a combination of behavioral and cognitive theories. The principles and essential justification for proving the efficacy of the program in increasing happiness explain the cognitive level, whereas behavioral treatment techniques by which the 12 principles can be practically applied are used at the behavioral level. These principles are namely; gratitude, optimism, avoiding, farfetched dreams and social competition, practicing kindness, improving social relations, compromising strategies, forgiveness, doing activities which make you involved and increase your experience, writing down life pleasures, commitment, religion and spirituality, and taking care of the body.

These were all practiced in two experimental groups for 2 hours during five sessions with the purpose of analyzing the effect of happiness teaching on the individuals' life satisfaction. The participants in the experimental group were given 10 sections of Fordays and Lyubomirsky teaching methods (five sessions each). The questionnaires were filled out by the participants in the two groups before conducting the intervention. Afterward, the questionnaires were again given to the two experimental groups as well as the control group for the second time after intervention. The same thing was done 2 weeks after the final teaching sessions for the follow up information test.

Data analysis

Descriptive and inferential statistics were used for analyzing the data obtained from the questionnaires. Charts, distribution graph, distribution percentage, mean, standard deviation and variance were used at the descriptive level. As for the inferential level and along with the study hypotheses, co-variance analysis was used based on the experimental (the group that underwent Lyubomirsky's treatment) and control groups' comparison.

Findings

First hypothesis

Lyubomirsky's method affects happiness in individuals attending family counseling center (post-test and follow-up phases).

As shown in [Table 1] and [Table 2], there is a significant difference between the scores of happiness in post-test and control groups at P < 0.01.
Table 1: Analysis of covariance happiness post-test scores in experimental and control groups


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Table 2: Analysis of covariance happiness follow-up score in experimental and control groups


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Second hypothesis

Lyubomirsky's method affects life satisfaction in individuals attending family counseling center (post-test and follow-up phases).

As shown in [Table 3] and [Table 4], there is a significant difference between the scores of life satisfaction in post-test and control groups at P < 0.01.
Table 3: Analysis of covariance life satisfaction post-test scores in experimental and control groups


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Table 4: Analysis of covariance life satisfaction follow-up score in experimental and control groups


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  Discussion and Conclusion Top


First hypothesis

Lyubomirsky's method affects happiness in individuals attending family counseling center (post-test and follow-up phases).

The happiness mean scores for Lyubomirsky and control group in post-test stage were 46.84 and 39.64, respectively. The calculated F, which was 18/405 [Table 1], revealed that there is a significant difference among the happiness in the groups (control, Lyubomirsky's happiness teaching method) in post-test stage. Lyubomirsky's happiness teaching method has increased the happiness in individuals attending counseling centers due to the fact that the amount of mean scores of happiness is more than that of the control group, in post-test stage. The mean scores of happiness for Lyubomirsky and control group in the follow-up stage were 46.88 and 39.04, respectively. The calculated F, which was 53.607 [Table 2], showed that there is a significant difference among the groups' happiness levels (control, Lyubomirsky's happiness teaching method) in follow-up stage. It was further observed that the effect of Lyubomirsky's happiness teaching was a long-lasting one since the happiness mean scores of Lyubomirsky happiness group turned out to be more than that of the control group in the follow-up stage. The findings of the current study were totally in line with those of Hilles, [18] Peterson et al. [23] Franice et al.[11] Bradburn and Coppellowitz, [9] Bakhsipoor et al. [15] Bahrami, [5] Moradi et al., [25] Shams [28] and Abedi. [29],[30] They all proved that teaching interventions like this could reduce depression and anxiety and increase happiness and positive tempers in individuals. Therefore, it can be said that negative emotions such as fear, anxiety and future concerns will reduce upon creating or increasing happiness in an individual, which in turn increases happiness, thinking power, and positive emotions. No score difference was found in the control group as they did not receive any teaching treatment.

Second hypothesis

Lyubomirsky's method affects life satisfaction in individuals attending family counseling center (post-test and follow-up phases).

The life satisfaction mean scores for Lyubomirsky and control group in post-test stage were 20.12 and 17.04, respectively. The calculated F [Table 3] revealed that there is a significant difference among the life satisfaction in the groups (control, Lyubomirsky's happiness teaching method) in post-test stage. Lyubomirsky's happiness teaching method has increased the life satisfaction in individuals attending counseling centers, due to the fact that the amount of mean scores of happiness is more than that of the control group, in post-test stage.

The mean scores of life satisfaction for Lyubomirsky and control group in the follow-up stage were 21.64 and 15.68, respectively. The calculated F, which was 54.38 [Table 4] showed that there is a significant difference among the groups' life satisfaction levels, (control, Lyubomirsky's happiness teaching method) in follow-up stage. It was further observed that the effect of Lyubomirsky's happiness teaching was a long-lasting one since the life satisfaction mean scores of Lyubomirsky happiness group turned out to be more than that of the control group in the follow-up stage. The findings of the present study were in line with those of Peterson et al. [23] Rigby and Huebner, [20] Mattei and Scayfer, [13] MacCullough et al. [22] Hilles, [18] Borthner and Holtsech (1970), Philips (1967), Bradburn and Coppellowitz, [9] Jokar and Sepehri, [12] and Moradi et al. [25] They all believed that such happiness teaching interventions can increase life cooperation and lifetime in individuals. Since people are constantly involved in daily problems, especially economic issues, it is not surprising that they are all prone to premature depression, which can reduce their life satisfaction.

 
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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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