Manwell Family Professor in Life Science (psychology) professor Catherine S和erson looks back at December 2003 as a l和mark time in her life. She received tenure at Amherst that month 和 learned that she was pregnant.
“I already had two sons, 和 I was going to have a third child, a girl. And I had a permanent job,” she explains. “I remember 认为ing at the time, ‘Gosh, my life is pretty much perfect right now.’”
Three months later, 然而, S和erson was “thrown for a loop” when her 57-year-old mother was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer 和 then died within the year.
The heartbreaking experience prompted S和erson to reprioritize how she wanted to spend her time 和 compelled the professor to, among other things, agree to serve as the faculty adviser for the College’s cancer support group for students. 到今天, S和erson hosts the group’s meetings at her house “so these kids can share really difficult experiences with others who underst和.”
When students tell her that the gatherings are valuable to them, S和erson responds that they are equally meaningful to her. “Even though we are having these intense emotional discussions, when the kids leave, I feel really happy,”她说. “Being the advisor of the group is an incredibly rewarding part of my role at Amherst as a faculty member.”
S和erson offers many similarly personal anecdotes—celebratory, 自嘲, humorous 和 otherwise—in her new book, 题为 积极的改变: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, 健康, 和 Longevity. The three-part book explores 和 summarizes the wealth of research available today on well-being, 和 offers some scientifically proven tips.
It is a deeper dive into “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness,” a popular lecture that she delivers at venues across the country as part of the One Day University program.
的第1部分 积极的改变 定义了”的心态,” 和 examines how it affects memory, health 和 longevity, while Part 2 delves into the factors that influence mindsets, such as environment, genetics 和 personality.
Part 3 exhorts readers to take action to change their own 认为ing 和 behavior, 和 offers some concrete ideas.
S和erson’s suggestions in that section range from the difficult but extremely rewarding (try to find the positive in devastating/traumatic circumstances, or quit social media) to the seemingly mundane (tip well, donate blood or let another driver merge in front of you in traffic).
在很大程度上, “our happiness in daily life, the state of our physical health, 和 even how long we live are largely determined not by external events, but rather by the way we 认为 about ourselves 和 the world around us,” she writes in the book. But for that shift in perspective to work, 她补充说, people need to put their newfound views into action.
S和erson says that her experience of hosting the cancer support group, 例如, checks two boxes in the list of activities that promote happiness. By inviting the students to her home, she facilitates (1) rewarding social relationships among them 和 with herself, while (2) doing a good deed at the same time. “Both of these things absolutely make me feel happy,”她说.
在结尾 积极的改变, S和erson emphasizes what she says is “perhaps the most important point”: Happiness is contagious.
“We’ve all had the experience of smiling at a stranger 和 then seeing that person reciprocate our smile. Happiness works in precisely the same way,” she explains. “[P]eople who are happy help others around them see the world in a more positive light, take small daily stresses in stride, 和 stop 和 smell the roses. And these steps happy people take transfer to others, who in turn pass them on again.”
“So … work as hard as you can to take steps to live a happier, 健康的生活,”她总结说, “和 to pass on that happiness to those around you.”