What Controls Our Happiness

Image: Stitchwort by Mandy Disher

Happiness is always on our minds, consciously or unconsciously. Everyone wants to be happy. The big quesion is – what controls our happiness?

Our founding fathers were aware of its importance and mentioned it in the US constitution as a human right. Every book store offers an entire shelf in the self-help section dedicated to happiness, and it has been a topic of scientific discovery for a long time.

Measuring happiness in a quantifiable way is difficult but studies and psychological experiments have uncovered some interesting things.

If only . . .

The first is that happiness is not necessarily determined by circumstance. How many times have you thought . . .

I would be much happier if only I  . . .

  • had a better job and made more money.
  • had a bigger, more comfortable house.
  • could win the lottery and never worry about money again.
  • could meet my soul mate.
  • were 35 pounds lighter and a size 10 again.

The list is endless. Unfortunately, we believe we must 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 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!

We can’t change genetics and we don’t have a lot of control over circumstances. But, we can change how we think and what we do.

Choose to Be Happy

Happiness isn’t the result of having an easy life. The opposite is more accurate. People who face and overcome adversity tend to be happier over the long haul.

Doesn’t that make sense? There’s nothing more powerful than adversity and challenges to make us grateful for our blessings. Serious problems can be the catalyst for taking positive action and focusing on the good in our lives.

Circumstances don’t have a long-term effect on how happy we feel. They affect us temporarily and then it passes. For example, winning that big lottery could be a wild ride; but a year later, it would have little effect on how happy we are, regardless of the money or possessions we’ve acquired.

So, back to the original question:What controls our happiness? The answer is simple – we do – it is a choice!

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Abraham Lincoln

Let’s make up our minds to be happy!

Personal Thoughts on Happiness

Nine weeks ago I shattered my left wrist and learned some valuable lessons. Breaks are painful, recovery seems to take forever, and managing life with one arm is challenging. Plus, being isolated for six weeks is hard and I struggled with depression.

I returned to work last Monday and started interacting with people again – it was a great mood lifter.

Enjoy your friends and colleagues. They make a difference in your life. 

Let them know how much you appreciate them. Enjoying their friendship can support your choice to be happy.

 

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