University finds ‘key to happiness’

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© University of Liverpool/Twitter

© University of Liverpool/Twitter

A major study by the University of Liverpool claims to have unlocked the key to happiness.

Researchers from the university’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society found that perhaps the best way to deal with stress, depression and anxiety is to employ a little bit of ‘Que Sera, Sera’… and stop worrying so much.

More than 32,000 people aged between 18 and 85 completed an online ‘Stress Test’ survey by the BBC, the biggest of its kind in the UK, and the data was analysed by University of Liverpool specialists.

Professor of Clinical Psychology at the university, Peter Kinderman, told JMU Journalism: “We were very pleased and the results are very interesting and potentially more challenging than they initially appear.

“I’ve seen a few headlines on Twitter claiming that life events are the biggest cause of anxiety but what we thought was most important was the relationship between psychological variables and other variables.”

Professor Kinderman explained that the main thing that can be taken away from the study is the effect of people’s attitudes towards their problems, with the results revealing that a person’s way of thinking was a major factor.

He continued: “As a result of the study we found that if a bad thing happens, it’s actually the ruminating over it that makes you depressed rather than you getting depressed and then ruminating as a result, so it’s more about the way that you think. If you think positively it’s more likely that you’ll be positive.”

When asked about how Liverpudlians compare to others in terms of happiness and wellbeing, he outlined the links between deprivation and happiness: “Poverty makes it difficult to be happy but wealth doesn’t bring happiness. However, although being rich doesn’t guarantee happiness being poor pretty much guarantees being unhappy.

“I think people in Liverpool on the whole may have very slightly lower levels of happiness as they’re exposed to certain areas of relative financial and social deprivation. Unequal societies tend to be less happy and Liverpool has its difficulties.”

However, he concluded: “The thing that people miss is that they don’t compare their standard of living now to that of, say, Tudor times. On a whole they compare their wellbeing with that of footballers.

“I think people in the UK are lucky to live in a relatively stable country and I think it’s wise for people to take that wider view.”

About Ryan McElroy, JMU Journalism