Sometimes we live our lives pursuing things – a college degree, a nice house, an expensive car, a desired lover, or fame. We direct all our efforts to pursue this one thing. We are so focused on the end goal and when we finally get there, there is a moment of elation but it does not last. Sometimes, it even creates sadness because we realize how much effort we have expelled for something so anti-climactic in delivering the “happiness” factor. Most unhappy people live their lives pursuing things that really lead to more unhappiness.
According to a study conducted in UC Irvine, 50% of a person's happiness level is based on genetic tendencies. Amazingly, things that are circumstantial like social status, where we live, how much we make - things our culture asks us to focus and pursue - only account for 10% of the differences in our happiness. Here's the good news: 40% of our happiness is based on intentional behavior, things we choose to do to become happy.
It is empowering to know that we can create our own happiness and that it does not depend on things we pursue. It is also empowering to know that when we are happy, it is much easier to help achieve our goals.
40% of our happiness is based on things we choose to do to become happy.
Think of the times you have been happy. For me, it’s when I am with family and friends I love. The connection creates positive energy that invigorates my spirit.
Think of the times you cultivated happiness. These are things you practice on a regular basis to help create mental shifts that cultivate happiness. For me, they fall in 3 categories:
Slowing down. The breakneck pace of life takes a toll in my soul and psyche. I pause to slow down. A daily practice of mindful awareness through meditation or yoga allows me to connect my mind with my breath, which creates a calm, relaxed, peaceful feeling.
Letting Go. I practice letting go of negativity that bogs me down; always remembering that my life is shaped by how my mind thinks.
Being grateful. Every night before I go to bed I try to write at least 3 things I am grateful for. This seals my day on a good note.
The key word here is practice. Daily practice is key.
Happiness is a choice.
You may be thinking, “That’s it?” Yup, that’s it. No big drum roll revelations or complicated paths to happiness. Quite the contrary. Cultivating happiness is entirely up to you with simple, organic ways. It’s the effort that is hard. Realizing this, focus on simply taking the first step and go from there.
It’s all up to you!
What has worked for you in cultivating your own happiness?