Whenever I ask people the question: “what do you want from life?” Some people answer: “to be rich, to have money, to be a success, to have status, or to achieve things.” However, by far the most common answer is simply: “to be happy”.
But, traditionally psychology has focused on misery, and mental disorder. Studies of happiness were considered flaky and discouraged. It seemed we can measure depression, but not happiness. However, since the 1990’s positive psychology has grown exponentially.
(Diagram: Influenced by Sonja Lyubemirsky Phd study on happiness from Happy The Movie)
When happiness classes were put on at Havard University in the 90′s these classes were attended by thousands of students wanting to learn more. Joyful states of mind are hugely resourceful. When you feel joy, you perform better and you are more effective in the whole of life. We have a better life when we are happy and experience joy.
Recent studies have since proven, that once you have your base-line needs met, then more wealth does not increase your happiness. Joy is experienced from within. It is intrinsic, and comes through personal development and overcoming obstacles . It is not gained from outside of us, through extrinsic means, such as a bigger house, more status, more success or more money etc. These are simply means to an end.
Happiness studies are now stating, that when we firstly attend to our intrinsic happiness, then it makes it more likely for each of us that we will the able to also achieve what we want extrinsically too. Such pursuing and reaching for goals and our dreams and desires. That we can attain more money and reach our full potential.
Sonja Lyubemirsky PhD, studied happiness and hypothesised that, through studies on twins for example, show that around 50% of our happiness levels are determined through our learned behaviour, through nature and nurture . Things that we have picked up from our parents. This becomes our set point or range that we tend to return to as a baseline regardless what happens to us good or bad.
Her theory suggests that only around 10% of our happiness levels is determined through extrinsic changes in life’s circumstances. However these are the things that our schools, society and our cultures tend to tell us are the things we should pursue!
She goes on to say, that leaves around 40% is left for things that we can do to actively change our lives to consciously become happier. This 40% is about our intentional choices we make, to intrinsically change ourselves from within, become more flexible, let go of control, and overcome our conditioning, and our learned behaviours etc.
It turns out that other studies on happiness demonstrate that joy is a kind of life-rhythm, and enjoying a moment by moment flow. It provides a love for life. States of happiness and enjoyment diminishes your ego to its rightful place.
When you take action, simply from intrinsic enjoyment, you access your authentic self. By overcoming adversity, and your conditioning, you become more centred and more connected to happiness and the joy of being alive as a base line state.
So why not intend to be happy in your life, and centre your own thoughts around joy. If you have something you need to overcome, then make it your purpose to enjoy doing this, until it is achieved.
Despite our propensity to react more strongly to aversion, we are all intended to seek joyfulness and to continue to return to it in our lives. All we need to do is to tune into it, and deliberately decide to find happiness. And Whatever circumstance, your life will change accordingly.