One of the paradoxes in the social science is in the study of well being. We think of wel- being as how external events affect us, either positively or negatively. We are happy because we got the job promotion, earned lottery, got pregnant, married, travelled to our dream country or we are unhappy when our friends hurt us, we break up from our partners, lose loved ones, get a disability, get fired, to name a few. However, it has been shown in the scientific literature that the effect of all these events on subjective well-being is very short lasting. After a while we adapt, and we return to our default level. One of the most striking studies was done long time ago, which showed that when people get a permanent disability, their well being level drops dramatically at once. However, when they interviewed the same people after 2-3 years they found out that the disable people returned to their previous pre-disability level of well being (Frederick, S., & Loewenstein, 1999). 
This means that whatever we desire or dread will give us only a temporary boost/downfall in happiness and will not have any long lasting effects. This is pretty bad news for policy makers, as it shows that all the policies and tools can be worthless to boost happiness levels in a society. 

However, one of the recent findings showed that there are two exceptional activities that boost well being levels dramatically and shift the default happiness level up (Mochon, D., Norton, M. I., & Ariely, D. 2008). These are regular visits to religious services and communities and regular exercise. The study investigated 12 different religions across different cultures and exercise behaviour in Western cultures. They clearly find that it is not the big events that happen in our lives that make us happy (or unhappy) in the long term, but the small regular events that accumulate and boost our overall happiness levels. This is good news for us academics and also for policy makers, as now we partly know what helps to boost happiness levels. Directing the nation to live a more active lifestyle and enrich themselves spiritually will have a much longer lived and deeper impacts than it has once thought of.

Frederick, S., & Loewenstein, G. (1999). Hedonic adaptation.Mochon, D., Norton, M. I., & Ariely, D. (2008). Getting off the hedonic treadmill, one step at a time: The impact of regular religious practice and exercise on well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology29(5), 632-642.

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