One of the things that makes me happy is reading books and learning something new. Right now, I am reading The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. She is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her book is self-help backed by science. I’ve not finished reading it yet but have already got some insights that you might find useful.
The first thing to appreciate about any state, happiness is a state, is that it comes from you, from within. The only person that can make you happy is you, period. But not everyone is made equal. According to happiness research, including work with twins separated at birth, 50% of the happiness that you can attain in life is set by your DNA. You are born with a certain disposition towards happiness. So that is saying that half of us are glass half full folks, and half of us are glass half empty types. I’m sure that you can think of these people in your own life straight away. What about the remainder of your potential for happiness? Surely your circumstances in life affect your happiness. I guess you have heard people say, “When I move, I’ll be happy.” Or “If I get my dream job, then I’ll be happy.” “When I get a partner, then I’ll be happy.” Well circumstances do matter, but Lyubomirsky’s research indicates that only about 10% of your happiness is due to your circumstances. Humans are very adaptable. When we get the, job, house, car, partner, child that we desired our uplift in happiness is short-lived and the long-term effect, though present is not large. I have talked about this to people on trainings for years. When we achieve a goal in our lives, we become the person that achieved it, not the person that wants to achieve it. And as a result, the boost that we get from the achievement of the goal is not usually as large as we expected. Now that doesn’t mean that we stop working towards achieving things. As you will see shortly working towards goals is part of what we can do to make ourselves happier. The learning to take is that your circumstances in life do not count, that much, towards your overall level of wellbeing. So, no matter what your life circumstances are, happiness is within your reach.
This then leaves us with another 40% of our happiness potential and that is all about what you do in your life, your behaviour. And this area is where you can make a big difference to the overall level of satisfaction in your life. Lyubomirsky lists the behaviours of the happiest people that she and other researchers have found. They include –
- Nurturing and enjoying relationships with family and friends.
- Being capable and comfortable expressing gratitude for what they have in their lives.
- Being quick to offer help or assistance to friends or even passers-by.
- Being optimistic when imaging their future.
- Living in the present and savouring life’s pleasures.
- Making physical exercise an integral component of their weekly routine.
- Being deeply committed to their lifelong goals.
- Even in the face of crises and tragedies, which they still face, they find the courage to rise to these challenges.
If you want to improve your level of happiness, then look at the list above and ask yourself which of these areas can you do better in. Make a commitment to yourself today to start the process of becoming happier, knowing that it is as possible for you as it is for anyone else. Utilising the thinking, tools, and techniques of NLP can help you to get there too. Because you can overcome the things that stop you finding happiness easier to access. And you can install new ways of thinking to use in your life to make happiness part of your routine. In NLP we say that you don’t set goals to be happy, because it is a state, but feel empowered to invite happiness into your life and to take up residence, because you can.
“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.” Daphne du Maurier