If You’re Happy and you Know It, Clap Your Hands!
Happiness depends less on what happens to us and more on how we perceive our experiences, enjoy the moment and create the future. Studies have shown that our sources of happiness are about 50% genetic, 40% based on what’s within our power to change, and only 10% affected by life circumstances. (source)
Hedonic Adaptation is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. In a time of doubt, we need to know that long term happiness is relatively stable throughout our lives, so this low moment will balance out in the end. Having a big picture view can ease anxiety surrounding impactful events.
In our day to day lives it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees and overlook some of the smaller, simpler things that can positively impact our happiness levels. There are lots of studies that show that the right behavior for the individual leads to happiness in life. (source)
Six Ways to Achieve Deep Happiness
1. Be busy, but not rushed
Being rushed puts us on the fast track to being miserable, but having nothing to do can also take its toll. Finding balance and stretching our comfort zone, while understanding our limits is the key to living life in the moment and valuing our time. Feeling like we are doing “busy work” is often the result of saying yes to things we are not particularly excited about. Saying yes too much is a sign that we aren’t valuing our time. Get comfortable saying “no” to things that do not produce a resounding “yes” when presented to you. Only say yes to the right things that bring excitement and satisfaction.
2. Avoid tying your happiness to external events
Tying your happiness to external things can lead to overly cautious behavior that avoids failures as a defensive measure. Think of how others perceive you and your accomplishments less and how you feel about yourself and your life more. Seek fulfillment instead of “status” and “stuff.” This avoids the trap of tying your self-worth to external signals such as possessions and the approval of others.
Make exercise a regular habit. The body is made to move daily — hourly. Endorphins are released with exercise which makes the body happy. Make regular movement a part of your every day life.
4. Avoid comparing yourself to others
Your life is yours, it is what you make it, not how it compares to the lives of others. As people we should focus more on spending our time and money on experiences more than buying material goods. Focus on who you are and what your life goals are and celebrate your milestones for yourself. “Keeping up with the Jones’s” will never be as satisfying as you think it will.
5. Follow your dreams
This one seems cliche, but in the end, following your dreams in earnest will result in success in some form or another. Take the risk to put something that starts as a dream into action — make it a reality! How our lives turn out is all about choices made or not made. There are seven days in the week, and “someday” is not one of them. Pay attention to how events play out. Take the action to move from the familiar to new adventures.
6. Practice gratitude and forgiveness.
Counting our daily blessings and expressing gratitude to others increases happiness. Studies of people 90 to 100 years of age showed that gratitude and forgiveness were major traits that added to their longevity and happiness. It is the journey of life. Take time to smell the roses and to watch a sunset.
Remember, the purpose of our lives is to be happy; happy moment to moment. This moment is your life.