I am always in awe of people who are able to overcome any type of stress or trauma with a positive attitude. It appears that truly happy people are able to adapt and adjust to daily events in a positive way, thus stocking positive emotions in their memory bank. While it appears that unhappy people may adapt to stressful events in ways that only reinforce the negative memories.
“Numerous studies show that happy individuals are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health (Lyubomirsky, 2005). So what makes a person happy? Is it the brand new house? Is it financial security? Is it having a plethora of friends? Or is it that some people are just naturally happy people? “A study by Ed Diener, from the University of Illinois, demonstrated that the richest Americans – those earning more than $10 million annually – report levels of personal happiness only slightly greater than the people who work for them (Lyubomirsky, 2005).”
So could it be genetics? Depending on what school of thought you align yourself with, research is showing that approximately 50-60% is genetics, 10% is life circumstances and 40% is under our control. Professor David Lykken, of the University of Minnesota, conducted a study on identical twins who were separated at birth. He found that approximately 50-60% of happiness is accounted for by genetics. In other words, each of us is born with a pre-disposition for a certain level of happiness. This pre-disposition is determined by characteristics that are inherited from our parents.
So while it may be argued that individuals may have a “happiness set point”, one (or we) doesn’t have to stay at that set point. One (or We) can also choose to be happy. So how do we do this? It is about being conscious. Learning to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, and actions is the key to choosing to be happy. When we check in with our thoughts, we realize that we may be telling ourselves negative things, which leads negative feelings and negative coping skills. Thus the key is to learn techniques to identify these negative thoughts. This is an ongoing practice that should be a part of our daily routine.
So many people are pursuing the art of happiness without really knowing or understanding what happiness means to them. So ask yourself :
“What is my definition of happiness?” “Where did I learn this definition of happiness?”
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” —Mahatma Gandhi
Lyubomirsky, S “The benefits of frequent positive effects: Does happiness lead to success?” Found on the world wide web at http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~sonja/papers/LKD2005.pdf
Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803-855.
“How of Happiness.” (2008). http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-happiness/200805/what-influences-our-happiness-the-most