The Truth About Happiness : What it is, What it Isn’t, and Why That Matters

At this crucial time in history, people are restless with their old ways of living and are ready for a change. A change in how they view themselves, how they view the role psychology can play in their lives, and a change in how they view their approach to happiness.

The new emerging field of Positive Psychology’s main goal is to change the focus from disease, to a proactive approach of fostering positive qualities in individuals (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000)

“To simplify it further, it is basically the psychology on what makes life worth living”  Sonya Lyubomirsky, 2007

 

Part of the new paradigm is to show clients how to foster these desired qualities, so they can help people breakaway from the feelings of inadequacy and lack of fulfillment, to a new level of high positive affect and emotion, and to new levels of life satisfaction.

From a global perspective, it becomes apparent from the statistics that the pursuit of happiness is not just a North American concept. In almost every nation from Greece, South Korea, and Argentina to Slovenia, they all put happiness at the top of list for what the want most in life. However, the problem is not in determining what they want, but rather the problems are in how to go about attaining that which they so desire.

Adrian G. White, a social psychologist at the University of Leicester, has actually made a map of the world in terms of happiness, or, as he calls it, “subjective well being” (SWB)

The Darker the country appears the happier they are reported to be, and here is a list from the Happy Planet Index  of the top 10 countries that scored highest on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint.

Country HPI Experienced well-being Life expectancy Ecological Footprint
Costa Rica 64.0 7.3 79.3 2.5
Vietnam 60.4 5.8 75.2 1.4
Colombia 59.8 6.4 73.7 1.8
Belize 59.3 6.5 76.1 2.1
El Salvador 58.9 6.7 72.2 2.0
Jamaica 58.5 6.2 73.1 1.7
Panama 57.8 7.3 76.1 3.0
Nicaragua 57.1 5.7 74.0 1.6
Venezuela 56.9 7.5 74.4 3.0
Guatemala 56.9 6.3 71.2 1.8

The new results confirm that we are still not living on a happy planet. No country is able to combine success across the three goals of high life expectancy, high experienced well-being and living within environmental limits.

So we are ready for a shift. A shift in how we see ourselves, our place on this planet, and how we approach happiness.

But in order for any significant shift to occur, a strong enough desire is needed to give fuel to the journey towards a happier you.

So we ask ourselves, Why should I put in the effort ? What’s in it for me ?

It has been Scientifically Tested and Proven that Happy people:

  • Live Longer
  • Get better jobs
  • Get paid more
  • Volunteer more
  • Have lower blood pressure
  • Less heart disease
  • Enjoy longer marriages
  • Achieve more of their goals
  • And much more

If these are enough to stoke your fire and get you excited about becoming a happier and more flourishing  person, then let’s begin.  Figuring out what is contributing to your current happiness is a good place to start.

From a proposed model of what determines happiness based on scientific literature, 50% has been attributed to a genetically determined set-point, 10% to life circumstances, and the remaining 40% has been attributed to intentional activity, what we think and what we do (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade, 2005)

The problem for most people seeking greater happiness is that the material things they believe would make them happier (e.g., the better car, bigger house, more money, losing weight, etc.) have been shown scientifically only to make a small difference in reported levels of well being and life satisfaction (Lyubomirsky, 2007).

It means if you were rich, had the perfect mate, and were in terrific health, you would only be 10% happier than if you were poor, single, and in bad shape physically.

It appears we have put all of our energy into setting goals that what we think would make us happy, but we have not been getting the type of return on investment we hoped for.

In short, it appears we’ve been chasing after the wrong things and getting pretty tired doing it as well. Instead of putting almost all of our energy into chasing things that only slightly improve our happiness, let’s take that 40 % that is in our control, what we do and what we think, and let’s learn to harness it’s potential to bring about a happier life.

It is our goal here at Stoke My Fire to give you access to more accurate knowledge on how to harness this portion of happiness that is within their control, in an effort to bring about these lasting increases to happiness that I know we all seek.

Here are some truths about happiness that positive psychologists are sharing with others, so we can make the most of our time and energy.

Here is the Truth about Happiness:

The Truth! Money, love, and health ONLY affect our level of happiness by up to 10%. That means if some of these things in your life are not going as you have planned, it does not matter. You can still scientifically increase your happiness no matter what your life circumstance!

The Truth! Goal setting is not just about reaching the goals you’ve set; setting the goals in and of themselves has tremendous benefit. You wouldn’t go on a road trip without a map and the same goes for life. Learning how to goal set will increase your happiness.

The Truth! People who have an opportunity to use their strengths at work, home, or school everyday are much happier than those that do not. The same goes for using your skills, talents, and creativity. You must take the assessments to identify your strengths and lean on them to increase your happiness!

The Truth! Optimism can decrease your susceptibility for physical and mental weakness. Optimists view bad occurrences as temporary, specific, and often caused by external forces. These are signs of optimism and optimism can be learned.

The Truth! Gratitude exercises done in a particular manner can not only increase your happiness, it can decrease blood pressure, boost your immune system, and decrease situational depression. The studies prove this!

The Truth! It’s possible to be TOO happy! I know it sounds ridiculous, but on a scale of 1-10, it is better to be an 8 so that you will continue to strive to be a 10. If you consider yourself a 10 in every aspect of your life, you may become complacent. If you think about this one, it may make your head spin. Keep going, the science will show you how to be optimally happy.

The Truth! The percentage of our happiness that is passed on by genes has been scientifically determined to be only 50%. That means 50% of our happiness is in our control and we now have the exercises to take that control and make ourselves happier!

Let’s move on to practical actions you can take everyday to become a happier more ignited individual!

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