Does your happiness always feel just out of reach, especially in these uncertain financial and political times? Are you sure that once you have that thing - the right job, the perfect partner, a great set of abs - you'll be happy at last? But have you noticed that once you get to whatever (fill-in-the-blank) goal, you feel about the same as you did before? So you take off after some new elusive dream that you're sure will really be the key to the happiness kingdom at last...
Well, guess what? According to a recent book, Happy For No Reason - Seven Steps To Being Happy From The Inside Out by Marci Shimoff (with Carol Kline), this is exactly how most people operate - they think that happiness comes from outside of themselves, and that the right "mix" of circumstances will magically usher those good feelings forward.
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Science says...But a whole host of recent scientific research has proven it's not what happens to you that makes you happy or even unhappy long-term. In fact, a famous study tracking both lottery winners and paraplegics found that a year after becoming rich or paralyzed, a person's happiness level was restored to where it had been before their life-changing event.
So what can you do to be happier without waiting on some external factor (that won't have a lasting impact anyway) coming to your aid? According to Shimoff, a New York Times #1 best-selling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a featured teacher in The Secret (film) it's easy - all you have to do is raise your "happiness set-point."
Genetics vs. experienceYour "happiness set-point" is a fixed range of happiness that's been created by a combination of roughly 50% of your genetics and 50% of your life experiences. Obviously you can't change your DNA. But the good news? There are many simple mental and physical habits you can form to raise this internal ability to be happy...
1. Believe the universe is out to support you. When you have the fundamental assumption that forces are working for your highest good, you tend to take things more in stride and enjoy your process.
2. Stop "happiness robbing behaviors" such as complaining, blaming, and feeling shame. Shimoff suggests putting $2 in a basket every time you do, to help you become more aware of this misery inducing habit.
3. Don't believe everything you think. Here's why - the average person has 60,000 thoughts a day. And a whopping 80% are negative and many aren't true! Thoughts like, "I'm not good enough," "I'm not pretty," "No one likes me," "I'm not ready," are nothing more than the chatter of an anxious mind, but they act as brain poison - literally activating the parts of the brain associated with depression and anxiety, while positive thoughts do just the opposite. So pay attention to your inner voices and counter the grumpy ones with more supportive, cheerful ones.
These simple yet effective suggestions are just a sampling of the myriad ways that anyone - rich or poor, single or married, with flabby abs or sporting a killer six pack - can incorporate into their daily lives to raise their emotional mojo, and make the world a happier place, no matter what world markets or politicians do.
I don't know about you, but I feel better already.
Carol Allen is the host of Enlightening Relationships on Karma Sol Radio and the author of Love Is in the Stars, an eBook about the intersection of astrology and relationships which can be found at a website of the same name.
Listen to Carol interview Marci Shimoff on this week's show...