This post is written for anyone and everyone who wants to understand how to be happy. I bet that includes YOU!
The pursuit of happiness is a hot topic these days. If you do a quick Google search, you will find more than 23,000 books with happiness in the title. In addition to books, there a more than you can count articles and coaches expounding advice on how to be happy.
The best source I have found is the book The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California, Riverside. This book is based on more than 18 years of research Lyubomirsky started as a doctoral student at Stanford. All of the tools and skills she advocates are based on research. She not only tells you what to do to be happy, but how to do it.
Lyubomirsky says right at the beginning “there is no one secret to happiness, just as there is no one miracle diet that works for all.” She also says she does not like the phrase pursuit of happiness because it sounds as if happiness is “an object one has to chase or discover.” She prefers to think of it as a creation or construction “because research shows that it’s in our power to fashion it for ourselves.”
The key to happiness is what she calls “The 40 percent Solution” defined as “40 percent is that part of our happiness that is in our power to change through how we act and how we think, that portion representing the potential for increased lasting happiness that resides in all of us.”
I have often said that it is better to seek fulfillment and contentment rather than happiness. But when she uses the term happiness, she is referring to the “experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense of one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
There are a lot of myths to happiness people believe that often lead to mistakes people make. But the key is to understand what determines happiness. According to Lyubomirsky’s research:
- 50 percent of the differences in people’s happiness levels can be accounted for by genetically determined set points similar to a set point for weight or IQ.
- Only about 10 percent of happiness levels are explained by life circumstances or situations: rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, married or divorced, etc.
- 40 percent is attributed to our daily intentional activities–what we do in our daily lives and how we think.
One of her main conclusions: “If we can accept as true that life circumstances are not the keys to happiness, we’ll be greatly empowered to pursue happiness for ourselves.”
I plan to continue to explore this topic of happiness and share what I learned in future posts. Until then:
What makes you happy?
Could you be looking for happiness in the wrong places?
What would make you happier?