How Happy Are You?

November 23, 2021

You can’t “find” happiness, but you can incorporate intentional activities into your life to maximize your happy experiences

Have you ever had that thought inside of your head amid a situation thinking to yourself, “it doesn’t get any better than this”? And then the next minute it all falls apart? Happiness is something that can be found in the small moments in life, but is it something that you either globally are, or aren’t?

Most people view “being happy” under the guise that you are either a happy person or an unhappy one, believing that you have to be in one category or the other.

They also assume that it is the experiences in life that either fuel our happy feelings or misfortunes that tear at its fabric, which can’t be undone. As such, many operate daily searching and seeking to “find” the happiness they feel they don’t have.

What is Happiness?

Although most of us think of happiness as the secret to life, science doesn’t follow suit. Happiness is the makeup of several factors in one’s life, some that you can control, and some of which you can’t.

  • Life circumstances (10%)
  • Intentional activity (40%)
  • DNA (50%)

Obviously, our DNA is not something that we can control or alter. Our genetics give us sort of a “set point” level of natural happiness that we automatically return to. And for some, that level is high, while for others it isn’t.

Circumstances, too, are guided by things in our past that we can’t change or control. Things like our financial status, income, attractiveness, where we live, and our health play into our happiness factor. But those conditions that we are immersed in, only account for a small percentage of our happiness determination.

That means that there is 40% of our ability to be happy that lies in our intentional activity. What is an intentional activity? It is things like daily habits and behaviors that we engage in. And they make up a significant portion of whether we feel joy and happiness or not.

Nearly half of the things that allow us to live a joyful life, versus a not so joyful one, are under our control. And if we tap into that 40% that we have control of, then our habits, behaviors, and thoughts can help us to find long-term happiness. And also to build the resilience that is sometimes necessary to overcome the circumstances that we find ourselves in.

So How do you “Find” the Happiness you Seek?

The key to happiness is to try to increase it for more extended periods, experience it with more intensity when it does surface, and to decrease low moods and sadness. If you focus your intentions to practice habits that lead to a happier you, then finding yourself more happy than not is well within reach for anyone, not just the lucky few.

But “finding” happiness is not a thing. You can’t go in search of it somewhere, there is no magic revelation to unlock it; it is something that you need to alter your habits to achieve. If you sit around waiting to find happiness, then you will be waiting on the sidelines indefinitely. But if you put action and use mindfulness in your life to make intentional small and daily changes to your choices and habits, then you will see yourself being happy more times than not.

Yogi black woman practicing yoga lesson, doing Ardha Padmasana exercise

What are Five Habits That we Can Weave Into Our Lives to Maximize Happiness?

Small and deliberate changes can have a significant impact on our feelings of overall happiness and satisfaction in life. By using these five habits, you can create meaningful change to be a happier you.

Being present and mindful

Mindfulness is a way to let go of the shame of the past and fear of the future. It is a way to live in the present only and observe those things around you. When you are mindful in the present, you learn to both savor and appreciate what’s happening in now. When you can live the present, without holding on to the fear of past or future, you can maximize each new experience you have in life. And experience the joy you crave.

Eating nutritious foods

You literally are what you eat because the foods that you put into your body significantly affect your emotions and health. Nutrition is also what fuels your brain, so it would follow that if you eat good things, the result will be a happier and healthier you.

Practicing Gratitude

Science tells us that people who are more grateful for what they have are healthier mentally and happier. To some, gratitude might not be an automatic response, but the good news is that anyone can practice gratitude. And the more you look around and count your blessings, acknowledging the good that you possess, the more it will become a habit. And also, the more benefits you will reap from living a life that you are grateful for.

Exercise Daily

When you exercise, the body releases endorphins, which are “feel good” neurotransmitters. Just a little shot of dopamine is enough to lift your spirits and reduce stress. A healthier body equals a healthier mind.

Focus on Incremental Improvement Instead of the End Goal

If you spend your time focusing on a grand goal, then you are missing out on the most critical part. The journey to reaching those things we want is much more self-esteem building and brings us much more joy. You can’t control external outcomes like a job promotion, but you can control improving yourself a little every day. It is the tiny habits that we instill in our lives that build incrementally over time, which grants us far more happiness than always reaching for a grand goal that is out of our control.

Happiness is not a once and one thing that we can hold on to forever, and it never goes away. But small habits that we can introduce into our lives daily can have a profound effect on our overall happiness. The key to being happy in life is experiencing more joy than sadness. And although most view that as a matter of luck or life circumstances, nearly half of the reason that people are happy is within their control. And they are relatively easy to achieve.

If you make small intentions daily to live in the here and now, be grateful, and keep your body strong, you won’t “find” happiness; you will experience it. 

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