By Robin Trimingham
I read an article online today which discussed the fact that several studies on happiness have concluded that anywhere from 30-80% of our happiness is determined by our genes. I find that somewhat hard to accept.
The same article stated that there are also other studies out there that have concluded that anywhere from 10-60% of our happiness depends on our attitude and outlook. That seems somewhat more likely. On the basis that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, it would seem reasonable that “happy” people tend to have a happy outlook, make good choices for themselves and “stay happy”.
Frankly it strikes me odd that scientists and psychologists need to study this stuff at all – how is it possible that so many of us still don’t understand that the pursuit of money, fame and material stuff does not generally result in lasting happiness?
I am no expert on these matters, but I do tend to think that it might well be that we are confusing the short-lived adrenalin rush of exhilaration (or excitement) that we get from acquiring these things, with the calm warm sustained contentment of actual happiness; in much the same way that a hungry person can drink and drink and drink and never feel satisfied because although the liquid might be filling, it is not what they are craving.
Until we realize that true happiness is a state of balanced fulfillment in which we crave nothing; we will never be satisfied with anything that we have, or anyone in our lives, including ourselves.
The moral of the story? Get off the treadmill and learn to appreciate what you do have. Just about everyone has some aspect of their life that works well – focus on that until it your feelings about it spread into other areas of your life.
Realize that you can do something to make someone else’s life better and take action – volunteering or spending time or money on someone else will make you feel better about yourself in a way that nothing else will. You might even catch yourself smiling.
Then, before the clouds have a chance to roll in, take yourself outside. Stroll in the park, sit on the porch, go star gazing or watch the sun rise. There is nothing like fresh air for relaxing the mind and releasing stress.
And if you really want to go all out – try singing. Yes singing. Turn up the radio and make a joyful noise or drive around in the car with the windows up so no one can hear you. It really doesn’t matter whether you have a good voice or not – it is just about impossible to stay in a bad mood while singing. So go ahead and give it a try. (I double dog dare you!)