What Controls Our Happiness

Who Controls Our Happiness

Image by monkey_business

Everyone, whether they admit it or not, is continuously in pursuit of happiness. It is on our minds, consciously or unconsciously,  almost all the time Even our founding fathers were aware of its importance and mentioned in the US constitution as a human right. So, what controls our happiness?

Every book store offers an entire shelf in the self-help section dedicated to happiness. It should not be surprising that happiness has been a topic of scientific discovery for a very long time.

Even though it is nearly impossible to measure happiness in a quantifiable way, there have been many studies and psychological experiments that have uncovered some very interesting things about this topic.

If only . . .

The first is that happiness is not determined by circumstance as much as we think it is. In all probability you have had some of the following thoughts:

I would be much happier if only . . .

  • I had a better job and made more money.
  • I had a bigger, more comfortable house.
  • I won the lottery and never had to worry about money again.
  • I could meet my soul mate.
  • I could lose 35 pounds and be a size 10 again.

The list goes on and on. If only things were different, I would be happier. Unfortunately that is how we think happiness works. We think we have to change our circumstances in order to be happier.

Three Drivers of Happiness

Research has determined that there are three factors that determine happiness.

  • Circumstance
  • Genetics
  • Thoughts and actions.

Yes, circumstances factor in, but only slightly. They only influence about 10% of our happiness. Genetics influences 50% (so yes, there really are glass-half-full and glass-half-empty people), and finally – thoughts and actions influence the remaining 40%.

That is HUGE! Genetics are what they are and there is very little we can do about them; and, it often feels like we don’t have a lot of control over our circumstances. But, there is a lot you can do when it comes to how you think and what you do.

Choose to Be Happy

In other words, science proves that you have control over a very large percentage of your own personal happiness. It’s time to take control and choose to be happier.

Another interesting finding was that happiness isn’t the result of having things go your way and always having it easy. In fact, the opposite is more accurate. People who face and overcome adversity tend to be happier over the long haul.

When you think about it, it makes sense. There’s nothing more powerful than adversity and challenges to make us aware of all the wonderful aspects of our lives. Serious problems can also help us seek out and nurture happiness by taking positive action and choosing to focus on the goodness that surrounds us.

Scientific studies have shown that circumstances, both good and bad, do not have any long-term effects on how happy we feel. They contribute temporarily and then it passes. Winning that big lottery may make you giddy for the moment, but a year down the road, it will have almost no effect at all on how happy you feel regardless of how much money you have left in the bank or how many worldly possessions you’ve acquired in the meantime.

Similarly, losing a job, a house, or ending a relationship for most people will not influence your happiness a year down the road. In other words, it really isn’t our circumstances to keep us or prevent us from being happy. So, back to the original question: What controls our happiness?

The answer is simple – we do! We can choose to be happy or sad by how we think and the actions we take day in and day out. Let’s choose to be happy!

Personal Thoughts on Happiness

Nine weeks ago I fell and shattered by left wrist. The experience has taught me a number of lessons. I had no idea how painful a break can be, how long it takes to recover, and how difficult it is to manage life with only one hand/arm. Fortunately, I am right-handed, but it was difficult never-the-less.

My son and a friend were great about helping me when I needed it, but it was lonely and I struggled with depression most of the time I was at home recuperating, which made it even more difficult to feel well physically.  Sadness and depression saps your energy physically and mentally.

Image by wavebreak_media

I am happy to report that I started back to work at my part-time job last Monday. It has been wonderful because I had forgotten the importance of interacting with people every day and how it can lift your mood. So, I encourage you to grateful for your friends an colleagues and let them know how much you appreciate them. Let them be part of your happiness choice.

I want to give a shout out to all the people in my new training class and also those in my original class. Diandra, Alex, and Jordan, it was great to see you again. All the best in your new adventure at work – I’ll be in production with you soon.

, , , , ,

Comments are closed.