Happiness comes from attaining pleasure and avoiding pain. It consists of having three elements: having frequent positive emotions, having infrequent negative emotions, and feeling satisfied with your life.
But what causes us to be happy?
Current theory claims that part of a person’s happiness is due to heredity. People inherit a happiness “set up point” in which their levels of happiness will fluctuate throughout their life. This theory also claims that life circumstances are also a large determinant of a person’s happiness. Both positive life events like earning a raise at work or having meaningful relationships, as well as negative life events like experiencing severe trauma in childhood or suffering from an illness, can all have an impact on the level of happiness a person will experience.
If you ask what affects the differences between people in their level of happiness, heredity and life circumstance account for about 60% (Tharp, Watson, 2007).
But what accounts for the other 40%? Our own behavior!
The most effective way to increase one’s own happiness is to engage in the behaviors that lead to happiness.
What are some behaviors that increase happiness? (Tharp, Watson, 2007)
Here are some based on Fordyce’s Happiness Fundamentals
- Live a more active lifestyle and keep yourself busy.
- Spend more of your time socializing with others and building friendships.
- Work on being productive at work that is meaningful to you.
- Organize your environment and plan out your schedule in advance.
- Stop worrying about things you can’t control.
- Do not place too high of expectations on yourself or others.
- Develop a more positive, optimistic outlook on life.
- Orient yourself on the present and do not focus on what has happened to you in the past or what might happen in the future.
- Always work on bettering yourself.
- Develop an ongoing, social personality. Make friends everywhere you go!
- Just be yourself!
- Eliminate your negative feelings.
- Work on growing close friendships.
- Make a list of 5 things everyday that you are thankful for.
- Give back! Volunteer and donate to those that are less fortunate than you.
- Forgive those you may be upset with.
- Make happiness your first priority.
Now where to start?!
This may seem like an long, overwhelming “To Do” list. Just focus on one item at a time and you will be surprised on how much just one “happy behavior” might change your attitude.
Say, “Hello” to the happier you!
“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.” -Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
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