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!