This post is written for anyone and everyone who wants to understand how to live a life of happiness, gratitude, and joy.
Does that include YOU?
How to Be Happy
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 Wantby 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.”
What is Gratitude?
It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. Brother David Steindl-Rast
Brother David is someone I discovered a few years ago. Now I receive his messages from gratefulness.org. He defines joy as “the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens,” and he’s been living life as a Benedictine monk for 60 years. His own life has been disrupted by catastrophes of all kinds, but his message about gratitude remains timeless. Listen to this interview (On Being) “How to Be Grateful in Every Moment (But Not for Everything).”
“We have thousands of opportunities every day to be grateful: for having good weather, to have slept well last night, to be able to get up, to be healthy, to have enough to eat. … There’s opportunity upon opportunity to be grateful; that’s what life is.”
This is a great example of being grateful for every day. Every moment of every day.
The Double Rainbow Guy
We need some joy in our lives right now. Something to make us smile. Do you know the “Double Rainbow Guy?”
Paul Vasquez became known as the Double Rainbow Guy. He became famous because of his expression of joy. He was a delight. And he delighted others — more than 39 million.
Sadly, Vasquez died suddenly last month. He will be missed, but his JOY will be remembered. Watch this video and see if it brings happiness and joy to your life.
Try not to smile while watching this video. I dare you.
As a result of this video going viral, Vasquez continued to document his moments of joy and delight.
While he said his standard of life did not change except for the number of interviews he gave to people such as Jimmy Kimmel Live. Vasquez focused on 40 percent of his life that he could control.
Happiness, Gratitude, Joy, and Legacy
Lyubomirsky concluded 40 percent is attributed to our daily intentional activities–what we do in our daily lives and how we think. She explains numerous activities (in detail) that we can engage in during this 40 percent of our time. Each activity is worth exploring. While you may do some of these activities now, developing intentional and consistent activities (practices) is the key to happiness. Some of the activities are already well-known and advocated, but Lyubomirsky is specific about how to integrate them into your life.
The activities fall into categories she calls the Five Hows Behind Sustainable Happiness.
- The First How: Positive Emotion
- The Second How: Optimal Timing and Variety
- The Third How: Social Support
- The Fourth How: Motivation, Effort, and Commitment
- The Fifth How: Habit
The 40 percent of our daily intentional activities I refer to as Breadcrumb Legacy™. We often think our legacy happens at the end of life — when we leave.
This has become a focus of my work because Breadcrumb Legacy™ is the essential ingredient in being a good person and an effective leader. But I often ask in workshops and talks:
When we leave what?
When we die?
When we retire?
When we leave what?
With Breadcrumb Legacy™, we are leaving our “breadcrumbs” when we leave every conversation, interaction, and meeting. I am leaving some of my breadcrumbs with you in this article.
The key is to be aware of the impact we are having on a daily basis and to remember we leave a legacy whether we know it or not and it can be positive or negative.
In reality, our legacy is made up of small actions, decisions, and behaviors that take place on a daily basis. I refer to this as Breadcrumb Legacy because these small actions add up and accumulate to form our legacy that lasts and lives beyond ourselves.
Now is the time to focus on the 40 percent of our happiness levels by being intentional about what we want people to remember about us on a daily basis at work and at home. When we are intentional and consistent, each breadcrumb enables us to live a more purposeful life with a positive attitude and a sense of gratitude for our life journey.
Paul Vasquez, The Double Rainbow Guy, left a legacy of happiness, joy, and delight. When you have a bad day, watch his video again. What a great legacy to leave and he left it video by video. Recording moment and moment.
May the joy of Paul Vasquez be contagious.
“Breadcrumb Legacy ™ is about making life meaningful on a daily basis.”
How we live today influences what we leave behind today.
How will you be remembered when you leave?
How are you remembered today?
What would make you happier than to be remembered as you want to be remembered?
“Start living the way you want to be remembered right now.”