Is Self Autonomy the Key to Happiness?

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A new study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology showed how making and experiencing autonomy can be the most critical ingredient that helps with everyday happiness.

Psychologist Atsushi Kukita from Claremont Graduate University examined the link between happiness and. Kukita, along with his team, leveraged an Experience Sampling Method (ESM). In this method, volunteers received random notifications that were programmed times during the day over multiple days (this study was six times a day for a week) via their phones.

When a volunteer received a notification, they were ordered to answer a questionnaire that measured what they were doing and how they were feeling.

The scientists discovered that it mattered much less what they were doing, and it was more about if they were engaging in an activity of their own, wanting to predict their current happiness levels.

The study made an unexpected but excellent case for autonomous leisure activities as another predictor of happiness.

According to the researchers, a helpful message from this research is that some may not have to change what they do to increase their happiness, although doing differently what they already do may make a difference.

For example, someone may try to bring a higher sense of autonomy to their daily tasks.

According to the researchers, discovering autonomy and the ways to turn the have to’s into the want-to’s may lead to the following psychological benefits:

  1. They will feel much better.
  2. They will be more engaged.
  3. And they will discover tasks to be more meaningful.

Dean Mathers


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