This article was updated on 11/02/2020. We all want to be happy, but what is happiness and how do we become happier? Happiness is not a destination, but rather a way of being. Author Margaret Lee Runbeck described it this way: “Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” Many people believe they will be happy when they accomplish that goal, accumulate enough money to buy their dream house, or when they finally have a family. Possessions and people do not make one happy. Happiness is a choice that each of us makes, whether we realize it or not.
THE CHOICE IS OURS
According to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California Riverside, we all have three factors which determine happiness. These factors are genetic set point, life circumstances, and ability to choose. While each of these factors plays a role in our happiness, 40 percent of our total happiness level is up to us. That means at any given point or time in our lives, we can choose to be happy, or choose to be unhappy.
ARE THESE BAD HABITS HURTING YOU?
How do we choose happiness? There are several habits or behaviors which eat away at and decrease true happiness. The key is to eliminate these habits or behaviors and choose happiness instead.
Seven Keys to More Happiness (#1)
Anytime we choose to isolate ourselves from other people because we are feeling down, we are choosing to be unhappy. Socializing with other people, even when we don’t feel like it, can be good for our emotional well-being.
#2 of 7 Keys to More Happiness
We all like to have control over our lives, which can help increase our happiness. However, worrying too much about controlling everything, especially the things we can’t control, including others’ actions, will lead to unhappiness.
#3 of 7 Keys to More Happiness
When we complain we only serve to make the negative things we’re complaining about seem even worse. This leads to more negative feelings and decreased happiness. Furthermore, happy people don’t want to spend time with complainers.
#4 of 7 Keys to More Happiness
When we blame our challenges and problems on our circumstances, or on other people, we are essentially giving up all control over how we respond to our own life choices. There is no happiness in blaming.
#5 of 7 Keys to More Happiness
Criticizing others in effort to improve the way we feel about our circumstances will never lead to long-term happiness. While we might feel better for a fleeting moment, in the end it only creates more negativity.
#6 of 7 Keys to More Happiness
Speaking of negativity, if we spend our life focusing on the negative, we will always feel negative. Happy people focus on the positive and look for solutions. When we choose to be pessimistic it not only adds to our unhappiness, but also tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. See things for what they are and focus on the positive. Furthermore, happy people don’t like to hang around with negative people.
#7 of 7 Keys to More Happiness
Happy people live in the present. When we focus on the negative experiences of the past, we can never overcome those experiences. That means we can’t enjoy the present because we’re too focused on the parts of our lives that have already happened. By the same token, when we focus on or worry about the future, we can’t enjoy what is currently happening in the moment. In addition, we risk disappointment in unmet expectations, or regret wasting effort and energy worrying about something that never came to pass. Happy people live in the present and are happy to do so.
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