Is there a recipe that determines how happy we can be?
Why some people seem to be happier than others? What are exactly the ingredients of happiness? Is it money, beauty, health, education or genes? Unquestionably, all of these play a role.
Do we have a saying in our personal happiness?
Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research in identical and fraternal twins has shown that all people are born with a baseline of happiness. In other words, they come to life with their happiness programmed at some initial value. This initial value refers to the temperamental and affective traits everyone inherits from their parents and for every person is different. Higher in some, lower in others.
However, this genetic set point does not exclusively determine the overall level of our happiness, but only about 50% of it.
But wait, there are two more factors which play a determining role:
- the critical events happening in our life (positive or negative) and
- our own, deliberate, intentional activity: our actions
Therefore, in one hand we have what life brings us and on the other, what we do with that. What happens to us and how we tackle it.
Circumstances alone, do not determine our happiness
Most people believe that circumstances, such as our life events or our wealth and health, is the single greatest factor influencing our happiness. But as it turns out from the theory of Adaptation to Pleasure and other positive psychology theories, external circumstances contribute only around 10% to our overall happiness. On the other hand, the way we handle these circumstances influences our life by 40%, that’s 4 times more!
So life deals the card deck for us, but then it is up to us to play the game well.
Looking at it at another angle, we see that genes and circumstances account for a 60%, while our own actions account for the rest 40%. So, we have a 60% which is not under our control and a whopping 40% which is under our influence. Our thoughts, behaviors and actions control this 40%!
Happiness = Genes + Circumstances + Intentional Actions
As everything we consider important, our personal happiness requires some effort, enough commitment and absolute consistency.
So, where do we start?
A few first steps which will lead you towards this goal can be the following:
- Understand what is good for your body and mind
- Reduce overthinking
- Stop social comparison
- Invest time in your personal development
- Cultivate your relations with people who are already there
- Strengthen your resilience
- Place goals and go after them
- Increase your flow experiences
Last but not least, begin to feel happy, even if – at the moment – you aren’t! Just like when you start a journey and you still haven’t arrived at your destination.