Indulge me for just a second and imagine we live in an alternate universe where demistifying your ideal formula for “happiness” is as simple as identifying your blood type. It’s a world where just a prick of a finger could tell you whether gratitude journaling, goal-crushing, or self care was your gateway to bliss. Alright, so science hasn’t gotten us there (quite) yet, but Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a psychology professor at University of California, Riverside, has developed a self-diagnostic to help you determine which happiness practices feel the most natural for your personality.
“I believe that all of us want to be happy, even if we don’t use the same language to describe that wish, and even if we define happiness differently or we pursue happiness differently,” said Dr. Lyobomirsky in a 2009 talk with Google. “In every culture that researchers have surveyed, they ask people what are their top goals in life, they’ve found that most people put happiness at the top of their list.” Not only does Lyumbomrisky believe that we all have unique joy-sparking DNA, she also has the research to prove it.
Using both her own research and other scientific serotonin inquiries, Lyubomrisky generated a worksheet-style quiz, known as the Person-Activity Fit Diagnostic, which helps you determine which of 12 research-tested happiness activities will feel most “natural and enjoyable” to you. Developing coping mechanisms, learning forgiveness, and leaning in to life’s joys are all on the list. In just 15 minutes, you’ll know which ones speak to your unique joy-sparking DNA.
“I believe that all of us want to be happy, even if we don’t use the same language to describe that wish, and even if we define happiness differently or we pursue happiness differently.” —Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD
In short, the test works by asking you to consider how each practice would add or subtract from a week in your life. You rate things like “cultivating optimism” according to how natural it feels to you, how much you value it, and the guilt you experience should you fail to do it. It then provides you with a basic mathematical equation to determine your “fit score” for each activity. The higher the result, the better.
In the name of self-discovery, I decide to try the PAFD for myself and I learned a lot. When I first read over the list of items, I assumed my score would be for “committing to your goals” and “taking care of your body.” My instincts couldn’t have been farther from the truth. In the end, the test told me that my true path to undying chipper-ness lies in “practicing religion and spirituality” and “developing strategies for coping.” I kind of feel like I’m meeting myself for the first time. And—hey—she might just be a happier me.
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