Narrator: This is Science Today. You receive a promotion at work, someone smiles at you or you win the lottery. No doubt, you'd feel pretty positive in these situations, but the assumption that your mood is determined solely by what happens to you is not necessarily the case. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, says although these situations do make one feel better, it's short-lived.
Emmons: Studies have shown that our mood returns to the level it was at before these events happen within a very short period of time, so we know that it's not primarily situation or context-determined.
Narrator: Emmons found in recent studies it's really determined by our outlook and how we evaluate the events that happen to us.
Emmons: And so we can look at people who really objectively don't seem to have a lot of material benefits in life, yet they seem very happy. Why is that? I suspect it's because of their attitude - particularly their attitude towards gratitudes. That they find things, small things that they focus on, they're thankful for those and that can sustain them in difficult times especially.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.