Don’t get me wrong, I understand the English language fairly well and am fully aware that the word “happiness” is indeed (if we want to be technical) a noun used to describe “a state of well-being and contentment” (Merriam-Webster, 2004).
Question is, HOW do we get to that optimal state of contentment or happiness? Is it a condition or circumstance that is thrust upon us with similar happenstance to a rain drop landing on our head as we walk outside on an overcast day? Or is happiness based in DNA, meaning that a person is genetically “wired” to have a set point of overall happiness beginning at birth?
Both these things are true: one’s level of happiness is determined by his or her circumstances and genetics/set point. But there’s more to the equation:
Intentional activity is the kicker here. Without effort, a solid helping of “happy genetics” and all the good circumstances in the world aren’t enough. According to Sonja Lyubomirshy’s The How of Happiness (find it here), intentional activity is responsible for 40% of the total happiness equation. Forty percent! That’s quite a bit of control we each have over our respective levels of perceived happiness, in my opinion. Check out this pie chart from Lyubomirshy’s text:
So how do I add intentional activity to increase overall happiness? Here are some ideas based on suggestions I provide for my clients as well as in maximizing my own happiness:
- devote time to nurture friendships and relationships–create time to check in with friends and family, be fully present by minimizing distractions (put down the phone!)
- commit time to goal-setting--setting goals of any magnitude help increase motivation to continue a positive outlook
- engage in physical activity that brings you joy–movement is healing and boosts overall mood (it’s science!)
- express gratitude for what you have–create an ongoing list or gratitude journal to actively take inventory of all the things, people and circumstances for which you are thankful
- offer help to others–volunteer your time and energy to family, friends and/or your community
- nurture your relationship with yourself–dedicate quality time to being intentional about self-care, seeking quiet time and acknowledging your own needs
- dedicate time for spiritual growth–engage in worship, reading Scripture, or whatever else moves you toward closeness to your higher power or state of peace
- develop coping skills–bad things and thoughts happen, it’s what you do about it that matters
- schedule time for hobbies–each week try and devote a chunk of time doing something you love (art, music, crafting, building, etc)
For additional information on how to maximize your own happiness and positive outlook, develop coping skills or to seek a therapist for help–please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂