Monday, August 24, 2009

How To Achieve Happiness In Life: Develop New Habits

Everyone want to be happy, and with good reason. Not only does happiness feel good, but health and happiness are linked. Research into happy people has shown that they live longer, are less likely to become disabled or divorced, have stronger immune systems, and have a richer social life, than those who are not happy. Aristotle called happiness the goal of all goals, but how does one achieve a life of happiness?

While a focus on holistic wellness and well-being in general is one good way, there are more specific ways of attaining happiness in life. Recent research has shown that we each have a happiness set-point where our level of happiness hovers until we do something to change it. It turns out that ten percent of our happiness set-point comes from the circumstances in our lives, 40 percent comes from our habits, behaviour, and thoughts, and 50 percent comes from our genetic make-up. Yes - there is a happiness gene!

How does this relate to achieving happiness in life? It looks as though we can only influence 50 percent of our happiness at most and the rest is due to our genetic inheritance. But in his book The Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton states that our beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviour determine whether our genes are expressed or not, so by changing these we have the ability to influence up to 90 percent of our happiness. Sharon Begley in Train Your Mind. Change Your Brain agrees that we have to potential to transform ourselves and overcome our genetic happiness set-point.

Luckily there is a book, Happiness for No Reason, that shows how to increase our happiness set-point. Marci Shimoff, transformational leader and author, has boiled the achievement of happiness in life down to twenty-one habits in seven areas – empowerment, mind, heart, body, soul, purpose and relationships.

Empowering ourselves to stop being a victim and take responsibility for our own happiness is the first and most important step towards achieving lifetime happiness that is not dependent on circumstances. The tendency to focus on the problems rather than on finding a solution to them, means that people spend enormous amounts of energy in denying, worrying, or complaining about the problem - energy that could be better spent on solving the problem.

The first habit is to focus on the solution to a problem, which is defined as something you don’t like. If it’s possible to change the problem then do so; if you can’t change it then change your attitude towards it.

In my own experience, if you frequently practice changing your attitude either by seeing the problem from a different perspective, or by simply letting go of your angst about it, in time you will attempt to change fewer problems. It’s our response to events that cause our suffering, not the events themselves. However, I think that trying to address problems in which others are suffering will always tend to be important for most of us. I find it difficult to say that a small child in Africa is suffering from hunger simply because of its response to having an empty stomach.

Happiness for No Reason shows the happiness habits in the seven areas by likening them to a house. Empowerment is the foundation; mind, heart, body and soul are the pillars that support the walls and the roof; purpose is the roof; and relationships are the garden in which the house stands

By developing happiness habits we can increase our ability to achieve a life of happiness regardless of the circumstances we may encounter. We may not have a perfect life but we can aim for a happy one.

Information Sources:
Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out by Marci Shimoff
The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles by Bruce Lipton
Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform

by Sharon Begley
picture by Paraschiv Alexandru

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