Can you feel happier?

Can you feel happier? September 21, 2021

When asked: “What’s important in life?” Most people will say some version of “I/we just want to be happy.” How much can you control your happiness? According to social scientist and happiness expert, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, about 40% of your happiness is under your control – 50% is genetics and the remaining 10% can be impacted by life circumstances. What you do with the 40+/- % that you can impact makes all the difference.

40% is under your control – 50% is genetics and the remaining 10% can be impacted by life circumstances.

Articles and research on happiness show agreement on the factors contributing to sustained happiness. Here are three that have the biggest influence on your ability to be happy:

  1. How you re-frame situations to be more positive – A frame is the set of assumptions and beliefs you have about a particular situation or task. Frames are a product of your past experiences and are neither good nor bad. The challenge or blind spot is that we assume our framing reflects the truth instead of just our own subjective view and that others may be framing things differently. For example, your partner is late and doesn’t call or text. You might be framing the situation as something bad has happened. S/he might be engaged in a project and lost track of time. Different assumptions, different frames. For more on framing: 
  1. How you experience and express gratitude – Research shows that if you regularly find things you are grateful for, you become more optimistic, less depressed, and happier. Neuro-scientist Dr. Richard Davidson identified the ability to maintain positive mental and emotional states as one of the greatest influencers on lasting well-being. Check out the video below for more on his findings.

Read more on gratitude here: 

  1. How often you choose to be kind and generous – The Mayo Clinic reports that showing kindness is linked to increased self-esteem, compassion, and improved mood. Your blood pressure and cortisol levels (a stress hormone) decrease while positive changes like increased serotonin and dopamine levels bring increased feelings of satisfaction to your brain.

The happiest people I know are positive, open-minded, grateful, and kind. Happiness is attainable and sustainable for most of us when we choose to develop happiness habits.