Personality, Development and Happiness Assignment, psychology homework help

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This assignment, like most, has multiple parts.  To earn full credit you must address each of these items, thoughtfully in depth. Please NUMBER your answers.  I recommend you type your responses in Word and save often, then copy and paste into the text box.  All work must be in your OWN WORDS; no cutting and pasting.  Your final product should be at least 800 words.  Here are the questions:

Part 1: Personality 

  1. After you complete the Big 5 Personality Test, discuss IN-DEPTH your results here. Tell me the percentile for each trait and talk about IN-DEPTH what it means.  Be sure you really talk about your traits and don't just list traits.  Tell me examples of how you see this trait in your life (or not.)  Students will tend to just list characteristics but I want you to paint me a vivid picture of what your traits are.  You are also to up things in your own words; do not cut and paste from the Big 5 and do not cut and paste from the web pages. 
  2. List all of the web pages you used to access more in-depth information about each of your traits.  You must list at least 2 minimum.  
  3. Discuss three things you learned from the TED Talk on Personality. 

Part 2: Development

  1. Discuss two concepts from Mod. 9 that you found most interesting, enlightening, or exciting.  Be sure you define each concept and then discuss why you selected it. 
  2. Discuss two concepts from Mod. 10 that you found most interesting, enlightening, or exciting.  Be sure you define each concept and then discuss why you selected it. 
  3. Finally, tell me a 3-5 sentence summary of what the main idea of the article, "Your Child's Brain" was about.  Obviously, it's about a child's brain but what about this brain is the article trying to communicate????  Also, define the term critical period and discuss how it was related to the study with the kittens.

Part 3: Happiness

1.  Discuss three things you learned from the TED Talk on Happiness.

2.  Discuss the article on happiness; what were the main ideas it communicated? What surprised you the most as you read?  What did you learn? 









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Your Child's Brain By Sharon Begley February 19, 1996 A baby's brain is a work in progress, trillions of neurons waiting to be wired into a mind. The experiences of childhood, pioneering research shows, help the brain's circuits--for music and math, language and emotion. YOU HOLD YOUR NEWBORN SO HIS SKY- blue eyes are just inches from the brightly patterned wallpaper. ZZZt: a neuron from his retina makes an electrical connection with one in his brain's visual cortex. You gently touch his palm with a clothespin; he grasps it, drops it, and you return it to him with soft words and a smile. Crackle: neurons from his hand strengthen their connection to those in his sensory-motor cortex. He cries in the night; you feed him, holding his gaze because nature has seen to it that the distance from a parent's crooked elbow to his eyes exactly matches the distance at which a baby focuses. Zap: neurons in the brain's amygdala send pulses of electricity through the circuits that control emotion. You hold him on your lap and talk . . . and neurons from his ears start hard-wiring connections to the auditory cortex. And you thought you were just playing with your kid. When a baby comes into the world her brain is a jumble of neurons, all waiting to be woven into the intricate tapestry of the mind. Some of the neurons have already been hard-wired, by the genes in the fertilized egg, into circuits that command breathing or control heartbeat, regulate body temperature or produce reflexes. But trillions upon trillions more are like the Pentium chips in a computer before the factory preloads the software. They are pure and of almost infinite potential, unprogrammed circuits that might one day compose rap songs and do calculus, erupt in fury and melt in ecstasy. If the neurons are used, they become integrated into the circuitry of the brain by connecting to other neurons; if they are not used, they may die. It is the experiences of childhood, determin-ing which neurons are used, that wire the circuits of the brain as surely as a programmer at a keyboard reconfigures the circuits in a computer. Which keys are typed -- which experiences a child has -determines whether the child grows up to be intelligent or dull, fearful or self-assured, articulate or tongue-tied. Early experiences are so powerful, says pediatric neurobiologist Harry Chugani of Wayne State University, that ""they can completely change the way a person turns out.'' By adulthood the brain is crisscrossed with more than 100 billion neurons, each reaching out to thousands of others so that, all told, the brain has more than 100 trillion connections. It is those connections -- more than the number of galaxies in the known universe -- that give the brain its unrivaled powers. The traditional view was that the wiring diagram is predetermined, like one for a new house, by the genes in the fertilized egg. Unfortunately, even though half the genes -- 50,000 -are involved in the central nervous system in some way, there are not enough of them to specify the brain's incomparably complex wiring. That leaves an-other possibility: genes might determine only the brain's main circuits, with something else shaping the trillions of finer connections. That something else is the environment, the myriad messages that the brain receives from the outside world. According to the emerging paradigm, ""there are two broad stages of brain wiring,'' says developmental neurobiologist Carla Shatz of the University of California, Berkeley: ""an early period, when experience is not required, and a later one, when it is.'' Yet, once wired, there are limits to the brain's ability to create itself. Time limits. Called ""critical periods,'' they are windows of opportunity that nature flings open, starting before birth, and then slams shut, one by one, with every additional candle on the child's birthday cake. In the experiments that gave birth to this paradigm in the 1970s, Torsten Wiesel and David Hubel found that sewing shut one eye of a newborn kitten rewired its brain: so few neurons connected from the shut eye to the visual cortex that the animal was blind even after its eye was reopened. Such rewiring did not occur in adult cats whose eyes were shut. Conclusion: there is a short, early period when circuits connect the retina to the visual cortex. When brain regions mature dictates how long they stay malleable. Sensory areas mature in early childhood; the emotional limbic system is wired by puberty; the frontal lobes -- seat of understanding -- develop at least through the age of 16. The implications of this new understanding are at once promising and disturbing. They suggest that, with the right input at the right time, almost anything is possible. But they imply, too, that if you miss the window you're playing with a handicap. They offer an explanation of why the gains a toddler makes in Head Start are so often evanescent: this intensive instruction begins too late to fundamentally rewire the brain. And they make clear the mistake of postponing instruction in a second language (page 58). As Chugani asks, ""What idiot decreed that foreign-language instruction not begin until high school?'' Neurobiologists are still at the dawn of understanding exactly which kinds of experiences, or sensory input, wire the brain in which ways. They know a great deal about the circuit for vision. It has a neuron-growth spurt at the age of 2 to 4 months, which corresponds to when babies start to really notice the world, and peaks at 8 months, when each neuron is connected to an astonishing 15,000 other neurons. A baby whose eyes are clouded by cataracts from birth will, despite cataract-removal surgery at the age of 2, be forever blind. For other systems, researchers know what happens, but not - at the level of neurons and molecules -- how. They nevertheless remain confident that cognitive abilities work much like sensory ones, for the brain is parsimonious in how it conducts its affairs: a mechanism that works fine for wiring vision is not likely to be abandoned when it comes to circuits for music. ""Connections are not forming willy-nilly,'' says Dale Purves of Duke University, ""but are promoted by activity.'' Before there are words, in the world of a newborn, there are sounds. In English they are phonemes such as sharp ba's and da's, drawn-out ee's and ll's and sibilant sss's. In Japanese they are different -barked hi's, merged rr/ll's. When a child hears a phoneme over and over, neurons from his ear stimulate the formation of dedicated connections in his brain's auditory cortex. This ""perceptual map,'' explains Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington, reflects the apparent distance -- and thus the similarity -- between sounds. So in English-speakers, neurons in the auditory cortex that respond to ""ra'' lie far from those that respond to ""la.'' But for Japanese, where the sounds are nearly identical, neurons that respond to ""ra'' are practically intertwined, like L.A. freeway spaghetti, with those for ""la.'' As a result, a Japanese-speaker will have trouble distinguishing the two sounds. Researchers find evidence of these tendencies across many languages. By 6 months of age, Kuhl reports, infants in English-speaking homes already have different auditory maps (as shown by electrical measurements that identify which neurons respond to different sounds) from those in Swedish-speaking homes. Children are functionally deaf to sounds absent from their native tongue. The map is completed by the first birthday. ""By 12 months,'' says Kuhl, ""infants have lost the ability to discriminate sounds that are not sig-nificant in their language, and their babbling has acquired the sound of their language.'' Kuhl's findings help explain why learning a second language after, rather than with, the first is so difficult. ""The perceptual map of the first language constrains the learning of a second,'' she says. In other words, the circuits are already wired for Spanish, and the remaining undedicated neurons have lost their ability to form basic new connections for, say, Greek. A child taught a second language after the age of 10 or so is unlikely ever to speak it like a native. Kuhl's work also suggests why related languages such as Spanish and French are easier to learn than unrelated ones: more of the existing circuits can do double duty. With this basic circuitry established, a baby is primed to turn sounds into words. The more words a child hears, the faster she learns language, according to psychiatrist Janellen Huttenlocher of the University of Chicago. Infants whose mothers spoke to them a lot knew 131 more words at 20 months than did babies of more taciturn, or less involved, mothers; at 24 months, the gap had widened to 295 words. (Presumably the findings would also apply to a father if he were the primary caregiver.) It didn't matter which words the mother used -- monosyllables seemed to work. The sound of words, it seems, builds up neural circuitry that can then absorb more words, much as creating a computer file allows the user to fill it with prose. ""There is a huge vocabulary to be acquired,'' says Huttenlocher, ""and it can only be acquired through repeated exposure to words.'' Last October researchers at the University of Konstanz in Germany reported that exposure to music rewires neural circuits. In the brains of nine string players examined with magnetic resonance imaging, the amount of somatosensory cortex dedicated to the thumb and fifth finger of the left hand -- the fingering digits -- was significantly larger than in nonplayers. How long the players practiced each day did not affect the cortical map. But the age at which they had been introduced to their muse did: the younger the child when she took up an instrument, the more cortex she devoted to playing it. Like other circuits formed early in life, the ones for music endure. Wayne State's Chugani played the guitar as a child, then gave it up. A few years ago he started taking piano lessons with his young daughter. She learned easily, but he couldn't get his fingers to follow his wishes. Yet when Chugani recently picked up a guitar, he found to his delight that ""the songs are still there,'' much like the muscle memory for riding a bicycle. At UC Irvine, Gordon Shaw suspected that all higher-order thinking is characterized by similar patterns of neuron firing. ""If you're working with little kids,'' says Shaw, ""you're not going to teach them higher mathematics or chess. But they are interested in and can process music.'' So Shaw and Frances Rauscher gave 19 preschoolers piano or singing lessons. After eight months, the researchers found, the children ""dramatically improved in spatial reasoning,'' compared with children given no music lessons, as shown in their ability to work mazes, draw geometric figures and copy patterns of two-color blocks. The mechanism behind the ""Mozart effect'' remains murky, but Shaw suspects that when children exercise cortical neurons by listening to classical music, they are also strengthening circuits used for mathematics. Music, says the UC team, ""excites the inherent brain patterns and enhances their use in complex reasoning tasks.'' The trunk lines for the circuits controlling emotion are laid down before birth. Then parents take over. Perhaps the strongest influence is what psychiatrist Daniel Stern calls attunement -- whether caregivers ""play back a child's inner feelings.'' If a baby's squeal of delight at a puppy is met with a smile and hug, if her excitement at seeing a plane overhead is mirrored, circuits for these emotions are reinforced. Apparently, the brain uses the same pathways to generate an emotion as to respond to one. So if an emotion is reciprocated, the electrical and chemical signals that produced it are reinforced. But if emotions are repeatedly met with indifference or a clashing response -- Baby is proud of building a skyscraper out of Mom's best pots, and Mom is terminally annoyed -- those circuits become confused and fail to strengthen. The key here is ""repeatedly'': one dismissive harrumph will not scar a child for life. It's the pattern that counts, and it can be very powerful: in one of Stern's studies, a baby whose mother never matched her level of excitement became extremely passive, unable to feel excitement or joy. Experience can also wire the brain's ""calm down'' circuit, as Daniel Goleman describes in his bestselling ""Emotional Intelligence.'' One father gently soothes his crying infant, another drops him into his crib; one mother hugs the toddler who just skinned her knee, another screams ""It's your own stupid fault!'' The first responses are attuned to the child's distress; the others are wildly out of emotional sync. Between 10 and 18 months, a cluster of cells in the rational prefrontal cortex is busy hooking up to the emotion regions. The circuit seems to grow into a control switch, able to calm agitation by infusing reason into emotion. Perhaps parental soothing trains this circuit, strengthening the neural connections that form it, so that the child learns how to calm herself down. This all happens so early that the effects of nurture can be misperceived as innate nature. Stress and constant threats also rewire emotion circuits. These circuits are centered on the amygdala, a little almond-shaped structure deep in the brain whose job is to scan incoming sights and sounds for emotional content. According to a wiring diagram worked out by Joseph LeDoux of New York University, impulses from eye and ear reach the amygdala before they get to the rational, thoughtful neocortex. If a sight, sound or experience has proved painful before -- Dad's drunken arrival home was followed by a beating -- then the amygdala floods the circuits with neurochemicals before the higher brain knows what's happening. The more often this pathway is used, the easier it is to trigger: the mere memory of Dad may induce fear. Since the circuits can stay excited for days, the brain remains on high alert. In this state, says neuroscientist Bruce Perry of Baylor College of Medicine, more circuits attend to nonverbal cues -- facial expressions, angry noises -- that warn of impending danger. As a result, the cortex falls behind in development and has trouble assimilating complex information such as language. Fetal movements begin at 7 weeks and peak between the 15th and 17th weeks. That is when regions of the brain controlling movement start to wire up. The critical period lasts a while: it takes up to two years for cells in the cerebellum, which controls posture and movement, to form functional circuits. ""A lot of organization takes place using information gleaned from when the child moves about in the world,'' says William Greenough of the University of Illinois. ""If you restrict activity you inhibit the formation of synaptic connections in the cerebellum.'' The child's initially spastic movements send a signal to the brain's motor cortex; the more the arm, for instance, moves, the stronger the circuit, and the better the brain will become at moving the arm intentionally and fluidly. The window lasts only a few years: a child immobilized in a body cast until the age of 4 will learn to walk eventually, but never smoothly. THERE ARE MANY more circuits to discover, and many more environmental influences to pin down. Still, neuro labs are filled with an unmistakable air of optimism these days. It stems from a growing understanding of how, at the level of nerve cells and molecules, the brain's circuits form. In the beginning, the brain-to-be consists of only a few advance scouts breaking trail: within a week of conception they march out of the embryo's ""neural tube,'' a cylinder of cells extending from head to tail. Multiplying as they go (the brain adds an astonishing 250,000 neurons per minute during gestation), the neurons clump into the brain stem which commands heartbeat and breathing, build the little cerebellum at the back of the head which controls posture and movement, and form the grooved and rumpled cortex wherein thought and perception originate. The neural cells are so small, and the distance so great, that a neuron striking out for what will be the prefrontal cortex migrates a distance equivalent to a human's walking from New York to California, says developmental neurobiologist Mary Beth Hatten of Rockefeller University. Only when they reach their destinations do these cells become true neurons. They grow a fiber called an axon that carries electrical signals. The axon might reach only to a neuron next door, or it might wend its way clear across to the other side of the brain. It is the axonal connections that form the brain's circuits. Genes determine the main highways along which axons travel to make their connection. But to reach particular target cells, axons follow chemical cues strewn along their path. Some of these chemicals attract: this way to the motor cortex! Some repel: no, that way to the olfactory cortex. By the fifth month of gestation most axons have reached their general destination. But like the prettiest girl in the bar, target cells attract way more suitors -- axons -- than they can accommodate. How does the wiring get sorted out? The baby neurons fire electrical pulses once a minute, in a fit of what Berkeley's Shatz calls auto-dialing. If cells fire together, the target cells ""ring'' together. The target cells then release a flood of chemicals, called trophic factors, that strengthen the incipient connections. Active neurons respond better to trophic factors than inactive ones, Barbara Barres of Stanford University reported in October. So neurons that are quiet when others throb lose their grip on the target cell. ""Cells that fire together wire together,'' says Shatz. The same basic process continues after birth. Now, it is not an auto-dialer that sends signals, but stimuli from the senses. In experiments with rats, Illinois's Greenough found that animals raised with playmates and toys and other stimuli grow 25 percent more synapses than rats deprived of such stimuli. Rats are not children, but all evidence suggests that the same rules of brain development hold. For decades Head Start has fallen short of the high hopes invested in it: the children's IQ gains fade after about three years. Craig Ramey of the University of Alabama suspected the culprit was timing: Head Start enrolls 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds. So in 1972 he launched the Abecedarian Project. Children from 120 poor families were assigned to one of four groups: intensive early education in a day-care center from about 4 months to age 8, from 4 months to 5 years, from 5 to 8 years, or none at all. What does it mean to ""educate'' a 4-month-old? Nothing fancy: blocks, beads, talking to him, playing games such as peek-a-boo. As outlined in the book ""Learningames,''* each of the 200-odd activities was designed to enhance cognitive, language, social or motor development. In a recent paper, Ramey and Frances Campbell of the University of North Carolina report that children enrolled in Abecedarian as preschoolers still scored higher in math and reading at the age of 15 than untreated children. The children still retained an average IQ edge of 4.6 points. The earlier the children were enrolled, the more enduring the gain. And intervention after age 5 conferred no IQ or academic benefit. All of which raises a troubling question. If the windows of the mind close, for the most part, before we're out of elementary school, is all hope lost for children whose parents did not have them count beads to stimulate their math circuits, or babble to them to build their language loops? At one level, no: the brain retains the ability to learn throughout life, as witness anyone who was befuddled by Greek in college only to master it during retirement. But on a deeper level the news is sobering. Children whose neural circuits are not stimulated before kindergarten are never going to be what they could have been. ""You want to say that it is never too late,'' says Joseph Sparling, who designed the Abecedarian curriculum. ""But there seems to be something very special about the early years.'' And yet . . . there is new evidence that certain kinds of intervention can reach even the older brain and, like a microscopic screwdriver, rewire broken circuits. In January, scientists led by Paula Tallal of Rutgers University and Michael Merzenich of UC San Francisco described a study of children who have ""language-based learning disabilities'' -- reading problems. LLD affects 7 million children in the United States. Tallal has long argued that LLD arises from a child's inability to distinguish short, staccato sounds -- such as ""d'' and ""b.'' Normally, it takes neurons in the auditory cortex something like .015 second to respond to a signal from the ear, calm down and get ready to respond to the next sound; in LLD children, it takes five to 10 times as long. (Merzenich speculates that the defect might be the result of chronic middle-ear infections in infancy: the brain never ""hears'' sounds clearly and so fails to draw a sharp auditory map.) Short sounds such as ""b'' and ""d'' go by too fast - .04 second -- to process. Unable to associate sounds with letters, the children develop reading problems. The scientists drilled the 5- to 10-year-olds three hours a day with computer-produced sound that draws out short consonants, like an LP played too slow. The result: LLD children who were one to three years behind in language ability improved by a full two years after only four weeks. The improvement has lasted. The training, Merzenich suspect, redrew the wiring diagram in the children's auditory cortex to process fast sounds. Their reading problems vanished like the sounds of the letters that, before, they never heard. Such neural rehab may be the ultimate payoff of the discovery that the experiences of life are etched in the bumps and squiggles of the brain. For now, it is enough to know that we are born with a world of potential -- potential that will be realized only if it is tapped. And that is challenge enough. Math and logic Birth to 4 years Circuits for math reside in the brain's cortex, near those for music. Toddlers taught simple concepts, like one and many, do better in math. Music lessons may help develop spatial skills. Play counting games with a toddler. Have him set the table to learn one-to-one relationships--one plate, one fork per person. And, to hedge your bets, turn on a Mozart CD. Language Birth to 10 years Circuits in the auditory cortex, representing the sounds that form words, are wired by the age of 1. The more words a child hears by 2, the larger her vocabulary will grow. Hearing problems can impair the ability to match sounds to letters. Talk to your child--a lot. If you want her to master a second language, introduce it by the age of 10. Protect hearing by treating ear infections promptly. Music 3 to 10 years String players have a larger area of their sensory cortex dedicated to the fingering digits on their left hand. Few concert-level performers begin playing later than the age of 10. It is harder to learn an instrument as an adult. Sing songs with children. Play structured, melodic music. If a child shows any musical aptitude or interest, get an instrument into her hand early. Circuits in different regions of the brain mature at different times. As a result, different circuits are most sensitive to life's experiences at different ages. Give your children the stimulation they need when they need it, and anything's possible. Stumble, and all bets are off. APA Reference: Begley, S. (1996, February 19). Your child's brain. Newsweek. Retrieved October 16, 2011, from mind & body happiness The New Science of HAPPINESS What makes the human heart sing? Researchers are taking a close look. What they’ve found may surprise you By CLAUDIA WALLIS ugary white sand gleams under the bright yucatán sun, aquamarine water teems with tropical fish and lazy sea turtles, cold Mexican beer beckons beneath the shady thatch of palapas—it’s hard to imagine a sweeter spot than Akumal, Mexico, to contemplate the joys of being alive. And that was precisely the agenda when three leading psychologists gathered in this Mexican paradise to plot a new direction for psychology. For most of its history, psychology had concerned itself with all that ails the human mind: anxiety, depression, neurosis, obsessions, paranoia, delusions. The goal of practitioners was to bring patients from a negative, ailing state to a neutral normal, or, as University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman puts it, “from a minus five to a zero.” It was Seligman who had summoned the others to Akumal that New Year’s Day in 1998—his first day as president of the American Psychological Association (A.P.A.)—to share a vision of a new goal for psychology. “I realized that my profession was half-baked. It wasn’t enough for us to nullify disabling conditions and get to zero. We needed to ask, What are the enabling conditions that make human beings flourish? How do we get from zero to plus five?” Every incoming A.P.A. president is asked to choose a theme for his or her yearlong term in office. Seligman was thinking big. He wanted to persuade substantial numbers in the profession to explore the region north of zero, to look at what actively made people S feel fulfilled, engaged and meaningfully happy. Mental health, he reasoned, should be more than the absence of mental illness. It should be something akin to a vibrant and muscular fitness of the human mind and spirit. Over the decades, a few psychological researchers had ventured out of the dark realm of mental illness into the sunny land of the mentally hale and hearty. Some of Seligman’s own research, for instance, had focused on optimism, a trait shown to be associated with good physical health, less depression and mental illness, longer life and, yes, greater happiness. Perhaps the most eager explorer of this terrain was University of Illinois psychologist Edward Diener, a.k.a. Dr. Happiness. For more than two decades, basically ever since he got tenure and could risk entering an unfashionable field, Diener had been examining what does and does not make people feel satisfied with life. Seligman’s goal was to shine a light on such work and encourage much, much more of it. To help him realize his vision, Seligman invited Ray Fowler, then the long-reigning and influential ceo of the A.P.A., to join him in Akumal. He also invited Hungarian-born psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced cheeks sent me high), best known for exploring a happy state of mind called flow, the feeling of complete engagement in a creative or playful activity familiar to athletes, musicians, video-game enthusiasts—almost anyone who loses himself in a favorite pursuit. By the end of their week at the beach, the three had plans for the first-ever conference on positive psychology, to be held in Akumal a year later—it was to become an annual event—and a strategy for recruiting young talent to the nascent field. Within a few months, Seligman, who has a talent for popularizing and promoting his areas of interest, was approached by the Templeton Foundation in England, which proceeded to create lucrative awards for research in positive psych. The result: an explosion of research on happiness, optimism, positive emotions and healthy character traits. Seldom has an academic field been brought so quickly and deliberately to life. WHAT MAKES US HAPPY So, what has science learned about what makes the human heart sing? More than one might imagine—along with some surprising things about what doesn’t ring our inner chimes. Take wealth, for instance, and all the delightful things that money can buy. Research by Diener, among others, has shown that once your basic needs are met, additional income does little to raise your sense of satisfaction with life (see story on page A32). A good education? Sorry, Mom and Dad, neither education nor, for that matter, a high IQ paves the road to happiness. Youth? No, again. In fact, older people are more consistently satisfied with their lives than the young. And they’re less prone to dark moods: a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people ages 20 to 24 are sad for an average of 3.4 days a month, as opposed to just 2.3 days for people ages 65 to 74. Marriage? A complicated picture: married people are generally happier than singles, but that may be because they were happier to begin with (see page A37). Sunny days? Nope, although a 1998 study showed that Midwesterners think folks living in balmy California are happier and that Californians incorrectly believe this about themselves too. On the positive side, religious faith seems to genuinely lift the spirit, though it’s tough to tell whether it’s the God part or the community aspect that does the heavy lifting. Friends? A giant yes. A 2002 study conductReprinted through the courtesy of the Editors of Time Magazine © 2004 Time Inc. mind & body happiness ed at the University of Illinois by Diener and Seligman found that the most salient characteristics shared by the 10% of students with the highest levels of happiness and the fewest signs of depression were their strong ties to friends and family and commitment to spending time with them. “Word needs to be spread,” concludes Diener. “It is important to work on social skills, close interpersonal ties and social support in order to be happy.” MEASURING OUR MOODS Of course, happiness is not a static state. Even the happiest of people—the cheeriest 10%—feel blue at times. And even the bluest have their moments of joy. That has presented a challenge to social scientists trying to measure happiness. That, along with the simple fact that happiness is inherently subjective. To get around those challenges, researchers have devised several methods of assessment. Diener has created one of the most basic and widely used tools, the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Though some schol- ars have questioned the validity of this simple, five-question survey, Diener has found that it squares well with other measures of happiness, such as impressions from friends and family, expression of positive emotion and low incidence of depression. Researchers have devised other tools to look at more transient moods. Csikszentmihalyi pioneered a method of using beepers and, later, handheld computers to contact subjects at random intervals. A pop-up screen presents an array of questions: What are you doing? How much are you enjoying it? Are you alone or interacting with someone else? The method, called experience sampling, is costly, intrusive and time consuming, but it provides an excellent picture of satisfaction and engagement at a specific time during a specific activity. Just last month, a team led by Nobelprizewinning psychologist Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University unveiled a new tool for sizing up happiness: the dayreconstruction method. Participants fill out a long diary and questionnaire detailing everything they did on the previous day and whom they were with at the time and rating a range of feelings during each episode (happy, impatient, depressed, worried, tired, etc.) on a seven-point scale. The method was tested on a group of 900 women in Texas with some surprising results. It turned out that the five most positive activities for these women were (in descending order) sex, socializing, relaxing, praying or meditating, and eating. Exercising and watching TV were not far behind. But way down the list was “taking care of my children,” which ranked below cooking and only slightly above housework. That may seem surprising, given that people frequently cite their children as their biggest source of delight—which was a finding of a Time poll on happiness conducted last month. When asked, “What one thing in life has brought you the greatest happiness?”, 35% said it was their children or grandchildren or both. (Spouse was far behind at just 9%, and religion a runner-up at 17%.) The discrepancy with the study of Texas women TIME POLL FEELING GOOD IN THE U.S. Just How Happy Are We? ... Based on their own assessment, Americans are overwhelmingly happy and optimistic people, regardless of income Would you say you are happy ... Under $35,000 a year ... most or all of the time Most of the time All of the time ... some of the time 68% $35,000 to $49,999 81% 85% 88% $50,000 to $99,999 Over $100,000 a year 14% 13% 11% 78% U.S. total Would you say that so far you have lived the best possible life that you could have, a very good life, a good life, a fair life or a poor life? Best possible Very good Good Fair Poor ... not very often? 24% 16% No 14% 37% Yes 80% 33% 15% Depends/ don’t know: 6% 2% 5% Do you consider yourself an optimist? No 15% Yes 79% Do you generally wake up happy? 13% 7% 5% 2% 1% Depends/ don’t know: 6% This TIME poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 13-14, 2004, among 1,009 adult Americans by SRBI Public Affairs. Margin of error is ±3 percentage points. “Not sure” omitted for some questions ... And What Makes Us That Way? Most people find happiness in family connections and friendships What one thing in your life has brought you the greatest happiness? Children/grandchildren Family God/faith/religion Spouse 35% Do you often do any of the following to improve your mood? 11% 9% Pray/meditate Help others in need Your relationship with your children Your friends and friendships Contributing to the lives of others Your relationship with spouse/partner or your love life Your degree of control over your life and destiny The things you do in your leisure time Your relationship with your parents Your religious or spiritual life and worship Holiday periods, such as Christmas and New Year’s 51% 55% 52% 51% Listen to music Top four answers What are your major sources of happiness? 63% Talk to friends/family 17% Top eight answers 77% 76% 75% 73% 66% 64% 63% 62% 50% Take a bath or shower Play with a pet Exercise/work out Go out with friends Eat Take a drive in a car TIME, JANUARY 17, 2005 Have sex 38% 45% 39% 47% 35% 38% 30% 24% 30% Women 29% Men 27% 24% 25% 20% 21% 18% 25% mind & body happiness points up one of the key debates in happiness research: Which kind of information is more meaningful—global reports of well-being (“My life is happy, and my children are my greatest joy”) or more specific data on enjoyment of day-to-day experiences (“What a night! The kids were such a pain!”)? The two are very different, and studies show they do not correlate well. Our overall happiness is not merely the sum of our happy moments minus the sum of our angry or sad ones. This is true whether you are looking at how satisfied you are with your life in general or with something more specific, such as your kids, your car, your job or your vacation. Kahneman likes to distinguish between the experiencing self and the remembering self. His studies show that what you remember of an experience is particularly influenced by the emotional high and low points and by how it ends. So, if you were to randomly beep someone on vacation in Italy, you might catch that person waiting furiously for a slow-moving waiter to take an order or grousing about the high cost of the pottery. But if you ask when it’s over, “How was the vacation in Italy?”, the average person remembers the peak moments and how he or she felt at the end of the trip. The power of endings has been demonstrated in some remarkable experiments by Kahneman. One such study involved people undergoing a colonoscopy, an uncomfortable procedure in which a flexible scope is moved through the colon. While a control group had the standard procedure, half the subjects endured an extra 60 seconds during which the scope was held stationary; movement of the scope is typically the source of the discomfort. It turned out that members of the group that had the somewhat longer procedure with a benign ending found it less unpleasant than the control group, and they were more willing to have a repeat colonoscopy. Asking people how happy they are, Kahneman contends, “is very much like asking them about the colonoscopy after it’s over. There’s a lot that escapes them.” Kahneman therefore believes that social scientists studying happiness should pay careful attention to people’s actual experiences rather than just survey their reflections. That, he feels, is especially relevant if research is to inform quality-of-life policies like how much money our society should devote to parks and recreation or how much should be invested in improving workers’ commutes. “You cannot ignore how people spend their time,” he says, “when thinking about well-being.” Seligman, in contrast, puts the emphasis on the remembering self. “I think we are our memories more than we are the sum total of our experiences,” he says. For him, studying moment-to-moment experiences puts too much emphasis on transient pleasures and displeasures. Happiness goes deeper than that, he argues in his 2002 book Authentic Happiness. As a result of his research, he finds three components of happiness: pleasure (“the smiley-face piece”), engagement (the depth of involvement with one’s family, work, romance and hobbies) and meaning (using personal strengths to serve some larger end). Of those three roads to a happy, satisfied life, pleasure is the least consequential, he insists: “This is newsworthy because so many Americans build their lives around pursuing pleasure. It turns out that engagement and meaning are much more important.” CAN WE GET HAPPIER? One of the biggest issues in happiness research is the question of how much our happiness is under our control. In 1996 University of Minnesota researcher David Lykken published a paper looking at the role of genes in determining one’s sense of satisfaction in life. Lykken, now 76, gathered information on 4,000 sets of twins born in Minnesota from 1936 through 1955. After comparing happiness data on identical vs. fraternal twins, he came to the conclusion that about 50% of one’s satisfaction with life comes from genetic programming. (Genes influence such traits as having a sunny, easygoing personality; dealing well with stress; and feeling low levels of anxiety and depression.) Lykken found that circumstantial factors like income, marital status, religion and education contribute only about 8% to one’s overall well-being. He attributes the remaining percentage to “life’s slings and arrows.” Because of the large influence of our genes, Lykken proposed the idea that each of us has a happiness set point much like our set point for body weight. No matter what happens in our life—good, bad, spectacular, horrific—we tend to return in short order to our set range. Some post-tsunami images last week of smiling Asian children returning to school underscored this amazing capacity to right ourselves. And a substantial body of research documents our tendency to return to the norm. A study of lottery winners done in 1978 found, for instance, that they did not wind up significantly happier than a control group. Even people who lose the use of their limbs to a devastating accident tend to bounce back, though perhaps not all the way to their base line. One study found that a week after the accident, the injured were severely angry and anxious, but after eight weeks “happiness was their strongest emotion,” says Diener. Psychologists call this adjustment to new circumstances adaptation. “Everyone is surprised by how happy paraplegics can be,” says Kahneman. “The reason is that they are not paraplegic full time. They do other things. They enjoy their meals, their friends. They read the news. It has to do with the allocation of attention.” In his extensive work on adaptation, Edward Diener has found two life events that seem to knock people lastingly below their happiness set point: loss of a spouse and loss of a job. It takes five to eight years for a widow to regain her previous sense of well-being. Similarly, the effects of a job loss linger long after the individual has returned to the work force. When he proposed his set-point theory TIME, JANUARY 17, 2005 eight years ago, Lykken came to a drastic conclusion. “It may be that trying to be happier is as futile as trying to be taller,” he wrote. He has since come to regret that sentence. “I made a dumb statement in the original article,” he tells Time. “It’s clear that we can change our happiness levels widely—up or down.’’ Lykken’s revisionist thinking coincides with the view of the positive-psychology movement, which has put a premium on research showing you can raise your level of happiness. For Seligman and likeminded researchers, that involves working on the three components of happiness— getting more pleasure out of life (which can be done by savoring sensory experiences, although, he warns, “you’re never going to make a curmudgeon into a giggly person”), becoming more engaged in what you do and finding ways of making your life feel more meaningful. There are numerous ways to do that, they argue. At the University of California at Riverside, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky is using grant money from the National Institutes of Health to study different kinds of happiness boosters. One is the gratitude journal—a diary in which subjects write down things for which they are thankful. She has found that taking the time to conscientiously count their blessings once a week significantly increased subjects’ overall satisfaction with life over a period of six weeks, whereas a control group that did not keep journals had no such gain. Gratitude exercises can do more than lift one’s mood. At the University of California at Davis, psychologist Robert Emmons found they improve physical health, raise energy levels and, for patients with neuromuscular disease, relieve pain and fatigue. “The ones who benefited most tended to elaborate more and have a wider span of things they’re grateful for,” he notes. Another happiness booster, say positive psychologists, is performing acts of altruism or kindness—visiting a nursing home, helping a friend’s child with homework, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, writing a letter to a grandparent. Doing five kind acts a week, especially all in a single day, gave a measurable boost to Lyubomirsky’s subjects. Seligman has tested similar interventions in controlled trials at Penn and in huge experiments conducted over the Internet. The single most effective way to turbocharge your joy, he says, is to make a “gratitude visit.” That means writing a testimonial thanking a teacher, pastor or grandparent—anyone to whom you owe a debt of gratitude—and then visiting that person to read him or her the letter of appreciation. “The remarkable thing,” says Seligman, “is that people who do this just once are measurably happier and less depressed a month later. But it’s gone by three months.” Less powerful but more lasting, he says, is an exercise he calls three blessings—taking time each day to write down a trio of things that went well and why. “People are less depressed and happier three months later and six months later.” mind & body happiness 6. Invest time and energy in friends and family. Where you Eight Steps Toward a More Satisfying Life live, how much money you make, your job title and even your health have surprisingly small effects on your satisfaction with life. The biggest factor appears to be strong personal relationships. Want to lift your level of happiness? Here are some practical suggestions from University of California psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, based on research findings by her and others. Satisfaction (at least a temporary boost) guaranteed 7. Take care of your body. 1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down three to five things for which you are currently thankful—from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible. 2. Practice acts of kindness. These should be both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly neighbor). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects—it makes you feel generous and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness—all happiness boosters. 4. Thank a mentor. If there’s someone whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding you at one of life’s crossroads, don’t wait to express your appreciation—in detail and, if possible, in person. 3. Savor life’s joys. Pay close 5. Learn to forgive. Let go attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on. Seligman’s biggest recommendation for lasting happiness is to figure out (courtesy of his website, your strengths and find new ways to deploy them. Increasingly, his work, done in collaboration with Christopher Peterson at the University of Michigan, has focused on defining such human strengths and virtues as generosity, humor, gratitude and zest and studying how they relate to happiness. “As a professor, I don’t like this,” Seligman says, “but the cerebral virtues—curiosity, love of learning—are less strongly tied to happiness than interpersonal virtues like kindness, gratitude and capacity for love.” Why do exercising gratitude, kindness and other virtues provide a lift? “Giving makes you feel good about yourself,” says Peterson. “When you’re volunteering, you’re distracting yourself from your own existence, and that’s beneficial. More fuzzily, giving puts meaning into your life. You have a sense of purpose because you matter to someone else.” Virtually all the happiness exercises being tested by positive psychologists, he says, make people feel more connected to others. That seems to be the most fundamental finding from the science of happiness. “Almost every person feels happier when they’re with other people,” observes Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. “It’s paradoxical because many of us think we can hardly wait to get home and be alone with nothing to do, but that’s a worst-case scenario. If you’re alone with nothing to do, the quality of your experience really plummets.” But can a loner really become more gregarious through acts-of-kindness exercises? Can a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist learn to see the glass as half full? Can grat- pleasurable moments to review in less happy times. itude journals work their magic over the long haul? And how many of us could keep filling them with fresh thankful thoughts year after year? Sonja Lyubomirsky believes it’s all possible: “I’ll quote Oprah here, which I don’t normally do. She was asked how she runs five miles a day, and she said, ‘I recommit to it every day of my life.’ I think happiness is like that. Every day you have to renew your commitment. Hopefully, some of the strategies will become habitual over time and not a huge effort.” But other psychologists are more skeptical. Some simply doubt that personality is that flexible or that individuals can or should change their habitual coping styles. “If you’re a pessimist who really thinks through in detail what might go wrong, Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practiced regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying. 8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships. There is no avoiding hard times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The trick is that you have to believe them. that’s a strategy that’s likely to work very well for you,” says Julie Norem, a psychology professor at Wellesley College and the author of The Positive Power of Negative Thinking. “In fact, you may be messed up if you try to substitute a positive attitude.” She is worried that the messages of positive psychology reinforce “a lot of American biases” about how individual initiative and a positive attitude can solve complex problems. Who’s right? This is an experiment we can all do for ourselves. There’s little risk in trying some extra gratitude and kindness, and the results—should they materialize— are their own reward. —With reporting by Elizabeth Coady/Champaign-Urbana, Dan Cray/ San Francisco, Alice Park/New York and Jeffrey Ressner/Los Angeles Measure Your Happiness How happy are you? Sure, you may think you know, but this little test will help you keep score. The Satisfaction with Life Scale was devised in 1980 by University of Illinois psychologist Edward Diener, a founding father of happiness research. Since then the scale has been used by researchers around the world. Read the following five statements. Then use a 1-to-7 scale to rate your level of agreement. 1 2 3 Not at all true 1 2 3 4 5 4 5 6 Moderately true 7 Absolutely true In most ways my life is close to my ideal. The conditions of my life are excellent. I am satisfied with my life. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing. Total score _____________ • • • • Scoring: 31 to 35: you are extremely satisfied with your life 26 to 30: very satisfied 21 to 25: slightly satisfied 20 is the neutral point 15 to 19: slightly dissatisfied 10 to 14: dissatisfied 5 to 9: extremely dissatisfied • TIME, JANUARY 17, 2005 • •
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Personality Development and Happiness
Part 1: Personality
Question 1
Somewhat conventional
In most cases, I find myself tending to stick with the norms. I tend to agree with the
majority of professional opinion in regards to various matters. This does not necessary mean that
am uncreative, if a particular field interests me, I tend to pursue it with zeal and passion.
However, the list of things that intrigues me is somewhat narrow, I like netball and some
elements of politics, and thus I pursue them with zeal and have vast knowledge in regards to the
subjects. However, something like soccer is not in my interest and thus I have zero knowledge on
the subject.
Neither organized or disorganized
In terms of organization, I fall in the middle. Am not negligent and undependable, but
also I am not well organized, and or self discipline. In some situations, I can be either well
organized or disorganized. It’s all a matter of decision and interest. Take for instance my studies,
I value education and thus I tend to be astute in matters pertaining to education. I have proper
study timetables that I follow strictly and as well good structured routines that I diligently follow
to ensure success in my studies. However, on matters less important such as arranging the room
or the lockers, I tend to be disorganized and negligent.
Relatively social and enjoy company of others
My social life is above average. I enjoy company of my friends and family. In a group, I
am not the most talkative, but I will rhyme with the rest of the members. In general, I will not be
left out when there is a concert in town, but at the same time I will not be the one planning the
after party.
Tend to consider feelings of others
I am sympathetic to other people’s fe...

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