Are You Happy?
Lets talk about a subject that affects you either positively or negatively daily depending on whether or not you feel it or not.
I hear from so many people who want to feel happier, more joyful and excited about life! They want to know is happiness lasting or just a dream that will always remain elusive? There has been so much research on the subject, that I thought it would be helpful to share with you what we now know cultivates happiness.
Why are some people happier than others?
About 50 percent of the answer lies in genetics. We’re born with a genetically determined happiness “set point,” meaning that even though our happiness will seesaw following pleasing or traumatic life events, it will inevitably shift back to a natural level.
Life circumstances, such as where we live, whether we’re married, whether we’re physically attractive, whether we’re wealthy, or healthy, have very little bearing on our well-being-only 10 percent-because human beings adapt very quickly to situations. Someone who feels elated after upgrading to a big house is likely to soon start yearning for more-an extra bedroom, a pool, whatever it may be. But ultimately, whether we drive a battered truck or a Lexus to work; whether we have hypertension or asthma, our ability to be happy and get happier doesn’t vary much.
But people predisposed to unhappiness aren’t doomed to stay that way?
Hardly. The remaining portion of our happiness-40 percent-is within our control. And we do so by changing how we think and behave. It’s like weight. My “set point” for weight is higher than I’d like, but I exercise and eat well daily to ensure I stay below that level. I know that if I slacked off, however, my weight would surge back up. The same is true for happiness. We can boost our happiness above our preset level, but keeping it there requires consistent effort. Ideally, that effort will become habit, and as with exercise, it will become less of a chore with time. Those prone to unhappiness aren’t doomed; they’ll just have to try harder to counteract the forces working against them.
That sounds like work.
It is work, but it isn’t necessarily unpleasant work. And the payoff is worth it. Being happy brings with it many benefits. With over 225 studies on this very important subject revealing that happy people on the whole are healthier, they live longer, they’re more productive at their jobs, they earn more money, they’re more helpful, they have better relationships, they have stronger social support networks, and they cope better than unhappy people do.
What can I do to increase my level of happiness?
Move your body: exercise, fresh air creates more dopamine in the brain which creates a sense of well being!
Get in the FLOW: do what you love and love what you do! If you are in a dead end job or don’t have hobbies that put you in the ‘zone’ (you know that place where time stands still.)
Your attitude: because when bad things happen (and they will for the rest of your life why? because that is just life) sickness, death, economic conditions etc… will always be present so the IMPORTANT THING IS YOUR ATTITUDE! There are NO VICTIMS! Ask what can I learn from this so that you can always grow from adversity – all adversity isn’t all bad, research shows that its through the contrast that we experience the good – if you didn’t know darkness how would you know light?
Supportive community: friends/family who are there for you through thick and thin create a wellspring of happiness.
Be intrinsically goal oriented vs. extrinsically goal oriented. Intrinsic goal oriented people are more about personal growth, relationship & a desire to help the world whereas extrinsically goal oriented people are about status, popularity, money & image all egoic & impermanent in nature.
Focus on what you do have vs what you don’t have. Its really easy to focus on the things that cause you the most fear but the key to happiness lies in focusing on what you do have and keeping your gratitude up! Make a gratitude list weekly to keep you aware.
Loving kindness meditations: you can create happiness more than any anti-depressant could ever help you just by simply sitting in stillness daily and sending love and kindness to yourself and to the world at large. For more info on how to do this practice click here.
Acts of kindness. This is one of the simplest practices to do & according to the research the most effective! Just do something for someone that you have no self interest in – pay a toll, buy them lunch – do something that will stretch you and do it ANONYMOUSLY! No one needs to know what you did – you aren’t doing it for recognition from others just the recognition that comes from your own inner self!
Is it ever too late?
No. Your “set point” doesn’t become more entrenched over time. Habits might, but research has shown us that habits can be changed. People who smoke all their lives are able to quit. There’s no reason this should be any different.
On a last note music is very powerful to lift your spirits – I have happy playlist that I turn up the volume on when I am feeling down and in need of a boost. Check out these songs:
• Give Love by MC Yogi
• No Worries by Simon Webbe
• Sun Light by MC Yogi
• Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
• Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
• Don’t Worry be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
Sending you beautiful bountiful blessings of love & happiness!!!
Join me at my next retreat in Florida – October 26-28, 2012 CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION