It turns out that some individuals are genetically wired to be happier. But if you’re not among them, what can you do to improve your happiness? Studies show about 40% of our happiness depends on what we think, believe, and do.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, provides five scientifically validated keys to increasing happiness in The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Penguin Books, 2007):
1. Positive Emotions. Frequent positive feelings—joy, delight, contentment, serenity, curiosity, vitality, enthusiasm, pride—are the hallmarks of happiness. Moments of pleasure broaden your horizons, stimulate creativity, and help build social, physical and intellectual skills.
2. Optimal Timing and Variety. Pay attention to timing and variety. Otherwise, keeping a gratitude list gets stale and becomes ineffective. Perform five acts of kindness in one day instead of spreading them out.
3. Social Support. It’s easier to break habits (drinking, overeating) with others’ help, which explains the success of organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers. The same rule applies to happiness. Get the support you need from an accountability partner or coach.
4. Motivation, Effort and Commitment. You won’t automatically become happier by stating your goals. As with anything worth pursuing, you have to be motivated, engage in efforts and commit to being intentional in repeated behaviors.
5. Habit. Positive thinking and happiness exercises can become habitual patterns of thinking, acting and speaking. Happiness levels will rise with established routines.
Online happiness surveys can help you develop greater self-awareness and enhance your ability to experience satisfaction.
Another way to explore your happiness is to consider working with a professional coach like myself. You can learn how to harness your strengths to improve your satisfaction in life. Give me a call or contact me here.