What is happiness, and why is it important?
"Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln
We often speak about quality of life but, the term happiness is often avoided as it is considered to be subjective. However, when thinking about people with autism who sometimes become very stressed, happiness and well-being are meaningful goals. Happiness is defined as the overall appreciation of one’s life-as-a-whole; in short, how much one likes the life one lives (Veenhoven, 2006).
Studies have indicated that 40% of happiness may be determined by intentional activities, 50% by genetics and 10% by life circumstances (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade, 2005).
Happiness is associated with many positive effects on physical health and is essential for people who wish to work with others who are highly stressed. It is our view that happiness should be an area of increasing interest for researchers. In the Atlass programme, we place the happiness of carers and people with autism at the core of our approach.
Consider the following approach; the next time you see a person with autism who presents with challenging behaviours, focus on what gives them momentary happiness and do more of it. This of course also applies to their carers.
Find more information on happiness here.