Predictive effects of subjective happiness, forgiveness, and rumination on life satisfaction
Jale Eldeleklioğlu (Uludag University) 2015, 43(9), 1563–1574

I worked as a counsellor and psychotherapist for 15 years, and I was always interested to find out what people can do to make a difference to their well-being, regardless of their situation. Even though it’s no longer of clinical application, this remains an interest of mine: there are things we can’t change in our lives, but we have the ability to change our response to those things.

Life satisfaction is considered to be a dimension of subjective well-being. It’s a subjective state determined by a person’s evaluation of the quality of his or her life based on self-identified criteria. So, what contributes to this sense of life satisfaction and what detracts from it?

Apparently, there are many factors, but in this study, the author examined the effect of subjective happiness, forgiveness, and rumination on life satisfaction. Subjective happiness is a concept closely related to life satisfaction in that it is also subjective; it may be experienced by some people in response to small things despite objectively difficult life situations, whereas others in much better conditions may feel unhappy. For those of us in Western countries who live in comfortable conditions, this might not come as a surprise!

Prior to this research, there had been previous studies that showed positive effects of the ability to forgive, and negative effects of rumination, on various psychological factors. The purpose of this study was to add to these findings by studying their impact on life satisfaction, and to do so with a Turkish population, to see if these effects occurred in a different cultural context.

The author found that the ability to experience subjective happiness and forgiveness positively predicts life satisfaction, whereas a tendency toward rumination negatively predicts life satisfaction.

Why is this important? For psychological practitioners, it can mean focusing on interventions that help clients to develop their sense of happiness and their ability to forgive those who have hurt them, and also helping them to reduce their tendency to keep going over things in their mind in an unproductive way.

For the rest of us, it can be a timely reminder to find small things in life to appreciate in order to increase our subjective happiness, to be willing to not hold on to grudges, and if we find ourselves ruminating, to do something that shifts our focus elsewhere: a recipe for improved life satisfaction. 

Julie O’Brien | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal