One of the many reasons I love being an American is the well-crafted choice of words and values that our forefathers used in the Declaration of Independence and in defining our national identity to honor the inalienable rights of mankind. However, before I go overboard with flag-waving, I want to focus on the “Pursuit of Happiness.”
Our forefathers may have been defining happiness in terms of living a good life; however, by most definitions, happiness is a mental state of well-being—that is, positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. So, using positive psychology and the scientific method, a reputable scientist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, found some answers to questions about what happiness is and how we might pursue it.
In her book The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, she suggests that our level of happiness is composed of three main factors. The largest factor determining our happiness is genetics (our individual happiness set point), which accounts for 50% of the total. The smallest component, accounting for only 10%, is determined by our circumstances—the things we tend to pursue in the name of happiness such as wealth, possessions, occupation, lifestyle, and family relationships. The remaining 40% is determined by our habits, behaviors, and thought patterns. This 40%—rather than the 10% related to wealth and possessions—is what we need to pursue if we want to be happy.
To unlock the potential of the 40% and substantially increase our happiness, Lyubomirsky offers the following 12 steps:
- Express gratitude
- Cultivate optimism
- Avoid over-thinking
- Practice acts of kindness
- Nurture social relationships
- Develop strategies for coping
- Learn to forgive
- Increase flow experiences
- Savor life’s joys
- Commit to goals
- Practice religion and spirituality
- Take care of your body through meditation, physical activity, and acting like a happy person.
So are you wondering just how happy you really are? E-mail me today, and I will send you a quiz to see how you are doing!