blog cover for post about the science of happiness

In the North American medical model, the statement "the cure for unhapiness is happiness" can sound at odds with our learned need to understand and answer the questions:  what’s wrong with us, what is our pathology, our diagnosis and possible treatments. 

The History of The Science Of Happiness

The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual is the field of (North American) psychiatry’s “bible”.  With nearly 300 documented mental illnesses, it is the foundation of everything that could be wrong with a person’s wellbeing. 

In the 1970s, the psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman began to consider another question, beyond what is wrong with us, the question, what is right with us?  He saw that many people, despite extreme adversity led happy, healthy and productive lives.  Such began the research into positive psychology and the science of happiness. 

Decades later, research has shown that there is a genetic foundation to happiness, sometimes referred to as a baseline or default set point.  Similar to height or eye colour, current scientific knowledge limits our ability to “change” our genetic predisposition to happiness.  Having said that the science also indicates that genetics make up about 50% of our happiness. 

Despite how much we also might think our life circumstances affect our happiness, they too have limits.  How often do we think winning the lottery, or the perfect life partner will make us happy?  Research indicates that generally speaking life circumstances have a limited, or about 10% impact on our happiness. 

Increasing Our Happiness

So what about the remaining 40%?  It is in the 40% that we can practice intentional scientifically proven happiness increasing activities.  In Dr. Seligman’s early research, implementation of one of these happiness increasing strategies, “Gratitude” resulted in relief to 94% of participants who only 15 days earlier self reported as being severely depressed!

Healthy mental wellbeing is a continuum.  Regardless of where you are on that continuum, experiencing lifetime patterns of sadness or depression, or situational depression, grief, sadness anxiety or just not quite feeling your best, the field of positive psychology and the science of happiness is a compliment to the medical model of treatment. 

If you are experience depression, grief, sadness, anxiety or are just not quite feeling your best, and want to add skills to your knowledge base, consider a counselling appointment.

For further reading:

Sonja Lyubomirsky

The Science of Happiness | Greater Good Science Center (

The Science of Happiness | Psychology Today

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About the Author - Julie Watts

Julie watts counsellor registered social worker in paris ontario

Julie Watts is a Registered Social Worker obtaining her Master's in Social Work with Wilfrid Laurier University. Julie is also a graduate of the University of Toronto Foundations in Mindfulness Meditation program and most recently completed the Science of Happiness at Berkeley University. She has completed various yoga training courses.

Julie has over 20 years of experience in the social services sector. Her scope of work has included child welfare, domestic violence, youth and adult justice, community health and anti-poverty work.

As a private practitioner, Julie uses various modalities including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Positive Psychology, Attachment, Trauma-Informed practice and Solution-Focused narrative therapy; Julie uses a person-centred approach to facilitate healing and growth.

Julie has found that almost every person she has supported has wanted to feel better in the their life. Julie is excited to join Absolute Health & Wellness and help YOU move from languishing to flourishing!

To book in please call us at (519) 442-2206 or click here.

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