The other day, I came across an article on the Purpose Fairy blog about happiness and scientifically proven ways to increase it.  The wannabe psychologist in me loved this piece.  However, the core premise was surprising.   Let me explain.

According to research that’s been done at the University of California – Riverside by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a person’s overall happiness level is a combination of three things:

1. A “happiness set point” determined by genetics, which accounts for 50% of happiness
2. Life circumstances, which account for 10% of happiness
3. Intentional activities, which account for 40% of happiness

What surprised me was that intentional activities, the things that we choose to do, account for 40% of our overall happiness.  For some reason, I really thought there would be a more even split between the three.

This article then made me think about something I heard recently on a Jillian Michaels podcast.  I think she was talking about people purposefully creating the life they want for themselves (or something like that).  During the discussion, she casually threw out a phrase that was completely new to me – “The grass is greener where you water it.”  What a powerful idea.  In fact, I’m still thinking/writing about it weeks later.

This made me laugh a lot!

I think we (society) are so used to hearing about the grass being greener on the other side that we never stop to think about the reasons why it isn’t greener on our side.  Well, it’s probably because we’re too busy looking elsewhere and not paying any attention to what’s happening in “our own backyard.”  It takes courage to turn your gaze inward and ask the question – “what can I do differently.”  I don’t know too many people, including myself, who do this well. 

The one person that does come to mind when I think about all of this is my dad.  He is probably one of the happiest people I know.  And not because he lives a perfect life, but because he chooses to be happy and focuses on all the good that surrounds him.  A small example of this is how he deals with his early wake up call (4:45 am) for work.  Instead of comparing himself to other people his age who are retired and “living the life,” he’s thankful for his health and a body that allows him to get up so early every morning.  I’ve honestly never heard my dad complain about this.  In his words, “it’s a part of life.” 

The Purpose Fairy article outlines three scientifically proven ways to increase happiness.  Well, here are three ways of increasing happiness that I’ve learned from the happiest man I know:

1. Smile more.  Smile for no reason.  Smile at strangers.  Hell, smile at yourself in the mirror. 
2. Make it a point to listen to your favorite music often.  Instant happiness!  The minute my dad gets home (from anywhere) he plays old Bollywood songs because it makes both him and my mom happy.  I know I don’t live at home anymore, but I guarantee that most evenings those two can be found signing around the house.  It’s cute!
3. Keep in touch with those you love.  Both my parents are really good about calling up friends/family just to say hi.  The simple of act of regularly picking up the phone and catching up with people creates an environment of happiness and love.

Well, I’m off to spend time with Vishnu and his dad (another very happy person) for the next couple of days!  He’s in town for a conference and is staying with us! 

Have a wonderful weekend!  And don’t forget to water your grass with lots of intentional, happy actions this weekend! 

By Parita

10 thoughts on “The Grass is Greener…”
  1. Ohh you know I love these kinds of positive, upbeat posts! I truly believe that it comes down to perspective- your attitude and approach to anything can make a world of difference to the outcome. Especially with smiling, it really is a domino effect- it sounds cheesy but it’s almost a silent gesture of humanity & acknowledgement and most importantly, it’s contagious! And I love that bit about your parents- Bollywood music always puts me in a great mood! Have a wonderful time with Vishnu & your FIL!

  2. Love this! Well said, Parita! You are absolutely right. It’s so easy to just say that someone has it better than you instead of taking a second and really appreciated the things you DO have. I love the three goals you listed. I always try to smile more, think positively when I’m having a bad day. Listening to good music always does the trick for me, too. And looking at photos of a happy event is a shoe-in! Or taking photographs. Anything to help me realize “You know, it could be a lot worse.” It’s good to get a reminder sometimes 🙂 <3

  3. I really needed to hear this positive post today Parita 🙂 its been really stressful situation last 2 days with me! I am really going to think about the Jillans quote and actually look inward to see what I can do differently and be thankful for what I have. Now I am headed to listening to good music and keeping in touch with my loved ones. .thanks a lot for this post.

  4. What a great post.. I will check out that blog. I do try and stay happy.. but it is interestign that 50% of it is genetics. Luckily, i grew up in a happy family and I do have all the elements needed to be happy. I think overall we all need a purpose doing something we love… and being nice to people around us and doing things we love which in turn leads to personal happiness. Great article. your sucha great DIL (bahu). 🙂

  5. As I get older (hello 37) I am learning that the grass isn’t greener most of the time. This is helping me to be a happier person! So really, getting older isn’t THAT bad I guess?

  6. Loved your post, Parita ! PS : I agree with you on your goal to smile more. I do try to smile more everyday – at colleagues, neighbours, friends, family, just about any stranger & for no apparent reason ~ often drawing amused glances and in some cases getting a smile in return : and in a way I think I’ve passed my smile on to others! Happiness is contagious! 🙂

  7. I’ve heard that quote before too (about grass being greener where you water it) and I LOVE IT! I’m a pretty happy person in general, but I feel like so much of it is just putting things in perspective, and choosing to make the best of it!

  8. It’s such a coincidence that you should write about happiness because you’re one of the happiest bloggers I’ve come across :-). It’s so fun to read your posts that you infuse a bit of your optimism and cheer into my day, so thank you!

    1. Thank you so much…that means a lot! I try to keep things as positive as I can. That is not to say that I don’t have bad days…we all do! However, this is my happy place. 🙂

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