New Activities May Combat Depression

Many people look change their life circumstances when they begin to feel overwhelmed and depressed.  While this instinctively makes sense, research suggests that factors related to happiness are 50% genetic, 10% from our life circumstances and 40% determined by our day-to-day activities.  Knowing this suggests that we should focus more attention on changing our day-to-day activities to combat depression than to change our circumstances.

The Theory of Sustainable Happiness supports this assertion, suggesting that one way to increase and maintain happiness while reducing depression is to channel our energy into new activities rather than seeking improvement in life circumstances.  Initial studies of students found that students who had recently engaged in a new activity felt happier than those students whose life circumstances had improved. Sheldon and Lyubomirsky (2006) also demonstrated that while the effects of improved circumstances do increase happiness, the boost in happiness from a new activity is greater and more lasting.

If you are experiencing depression, think of new activities that you can incorporate into your life.  They can be as simple as going for a walk, starting a new hobby, or traveling somewhere different.  While changing your life circumstances can often seem overwhelming, engaging in new activities can offer significant reductions in depression and increased happiness with little effort and expense.

Source: Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). Achieving sustainable gains in happiness: Change your actions, not your circumstances. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 55-86.

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