Brain chemistry is a powerful thing, and as much as environments can shape our happiness, more research is finding we can consciously influence happiness.
Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that while 60 percent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40 percent is up to us.
In his 2004 Ted Talk, Seligman describes three different kinds of happy lives: The pleasant life, in which you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can, the life of engagement, where you find a life in your work, parenting, love and leisure and the meaningful life, which “consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are.”
After exploring what accounts for ultimate satisfaction, Seligman says he was surprised. The pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution to a lasting fulfillment. Instead, pleasure is “the whipped cream and the cherry” that adds a certain sweetness to satisfactory lives founded by the simultaneous pursuit of meaning and engagement.
And while it might sound like a big feat to to tackle great concepts like meaning and engagement (pleasure sounded much more doable), happy people have habits you can introduce into your everyday life that may add to the bigger picture of bliss. Joyful folk have certain inclinations that add to their pursuit of meaning — and motivate them along the way.
Some of my favorites:
- They unplug
- They make exercise a priority.
- They go outside.
Continue reading at Huffington Post for the full list.
This is certainly something I strive for rather than achieve as much as I’d like, but the idea of cultivating your own happiness is an important one. Even giving the agency back to ourselves to be happy, rather than waiting for the right environment, job, or person to come along to make us happy, has been found to make us happier.
So go get happy. 🙂