Most people believe that if they had more money, more education, a better career, more love and support, or even more talent and creativity, they would be happier. If you ask most people why they want to be rich, successful, or in a loving relationship, they would eventually confess that it is because they want to be happy.
Everyone can have a different opinion about happiness and how to be happier but wouldn’t you want to know what years of research have shown?
Sonja Lyubomirsky in “The How of Happiness” shares the results of years of scientific research regarding the secret of happiness. Dr. Lyubomirsky dispels some popular myths regarding happiness in her book including the myth that “happiness must be found” or that “happiness lies in changing our circumstances”. According to her research, 50 percent of happiness is genetic. Think about your parents. Do you consider your parents happy people? If not, don’t give up yet; there is still hope. According to the same research, only 10 percent of happiness depends on our life circumstances. Therefore, despite what most people think, only 10 percent of our happiness depends on whether we are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or plain, in a loving relationship or single. So what determines the remainder, which is 40%?
If you were not born to a happy family and your life circumstances are not exactly as you wish them to be, here is some good news. The same research reveals that the remaining 40% of happiness is within your power to change. After years of scientific research into the lives of happy people, “The How of Happiness” offers the following activities as some strategies to increase your happiness.
1- Practice expressing gratitude: Appreciate what you have.
2- Be positive: When you experience hardship, ask yourself these questions: What else could this mean? What’s positive about this experience? How can I learn a lesson from this experience that might help me in the future? Have I become stronger because of this experience?
3- Don’t think too much and don’t compare yourself to others.
4- Show acts of kindness.
5- Invest in social connections.
6- Develop some strategies to manage stress, hardship, and trauma.
7- Learn to forgive yourself and others.
8- Live in the present and increase flow experiences: Flow was a concept introduced by Csikszentmihalyi in the 1960’s as “complete absorption in what one does.” A good way to know if you are experiencing flow is when you are so absorbed in doing something that you lose track of time.
9- Savor life’s joys: Enjoy small or everyday experiences.
10- Commit to your goals: Pick goals that are meaningful to you and commit some of your time and effort to getting closer to achieving them every week.
11- Be spiritual.
12- Take care of yourself (your mind and body).