Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure Routine and Positive Attitudes: Age-Graded Comparisons of the Path to Happiness

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure Routine and Positive Attitudes: Age-Graded Comparisons of the Path to Happiness

Article excerpt

An abundant amount of research has helped to identify predictors and inhibitors of happiness. Happiness, defined as positive affect and subjective well-being, has been associated with demographics (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005), job satisfaction (Weiss, Nicholas, & Daus, 1999), social life (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005), and physical and mental health (Mroczek & Spiro, 2005). Pragmatically speaking, one's leisure activities present an opportunity for immediate influence on happiness, given the voluntary nature of involvement (Godbey, 2007). Accordingly, associations between happiness and leisure satisfaction have been established (Riddick, 1985), and key aspects of leisure that enhance life satisfaction, identified (Doerksen, Elavsky, Rebar, & Conroy, 2014; Lyubomirsky et al., 2005).

The prolific findings from individual studies on happiness have been summarized in metaanalyses and books on popular psychology (Lyubomirsky, 2008; Lyubomirsky et al., 2005; Seligman, 2002). Seligman (2002; 2011) asserts happiness is a product of environment, attitudes, and inheritance. Lyubomirsky (2008) agrees that up to 50% of variability is due to genetics/inheritance, but also associates 10% with circumstance (e.g., life context) and 40% with intentional activities (e.g., routine and personal development). Furthermore, Layous and Lyubomirsky (2014) assert that a large portion of individuals' happiness is determined by the way they "choose to think and behave in their daily lives" (p. 474). This statement creates a clear connection to a person's habits of thought (Te., attitude) and freely chosen daily behaviors (Te., leisure routine). Finally, Fujita and Diener (2005) argue that happiness demonstrates considerable variability across time, age, and contexts (Te., circumstance and activities). In this regard, behaviors, attitudes, and age cohorts are salient influencers of changes in happiness. Although it is likelythat the various predictor-domains are inter-correlated and produce a compounded influence on happiness, little research has empirically examined the unique and combined effects of behavior and attitude across age cohorts. Thus, our current study utilized leisure routine (i.e." behavior), Locus of Control (LOC) and wisdom (i.e." attitudes), and age cohorts (i.e." circumstance) as representatives of the three predictor-domains to determine the nature of their influence on happiness. The twofold purpose of this study was to: I) determine the impact of leisure routines and attitudes (LOC and wisdom) on overall happiness and 2) elucidate how routine leisure activities and attitudes may influence happiness at different life stages. To provide a rationale for the present study design, we review selected empirical and theoretical works on our key variables to explain the inclusion of factors in our study.

Literature Review

Happiness

Happiness, a concept largely delimited to philosophy in the past, has also become popular in psychological research. Perhaps the most renowned dialogue on happiness came from Aristotle (1996), who heralded happiness as the highest good; the result of a life well-lived. For Aristotle, happiness represented human flourishing gained from virtuous living, but could be influenced by internal (Te., attitudinal) and external (Te., circumstantial) conditions. He argued that, while external, nonmalleable factors (e.g., age, income, macro-social conditions) may influence happiness, it is mainly determined by intrapersonal factors (e.g., personal attitudes and behaviors). The search for happiness continues today both in philosophy and in positive psychology (Seligman, 2000). Common psychological conceptualizations include subjective well-being (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999) and positive affect (Barrett & Russell, 1998). Positive affect is indicated by the presence of positive feelings (e.g., enthusiasm) and the absence of negative feelings (e.g., sadness) at any given time. …

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