Recently I wrote a newsletter on a shift to joy.
Building on those concepts, in this newsletter are highlights from a book written by Sonja Lyubomirsky, originally from Russia, who is a professor in the Department of Psychology of the University of California.
In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja offers a scientific approach to increasing our happiness. From research conducted, Sonja explains that 50% of our happiness is based on genetics and 10% is determined by our life circumstances. As my sister Sheila says “do the math”! The good news is a whopping 40% of our happiness is impacted by the choices we make and the actions we take!
Let’s face it, life can be scary and challenging at times, and there’s a lot that’s not within our control. Here are the consistent actions happy people take to proactively participate in increasing and maintaining their level of happiness:
- Consciously devote time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships
- Express gratitude for what they have
- Are often the first to offer helping hands to co-workers and passers by
- Practise optimism when imagining their future
- Savour life’s pleasures and practice living in the present moment
- Make physical exercise a weekly and even daily habit
- Are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions (e.g. fighting fraud, building cabinets, or teaching their children their deeply held values)
Last and not least, Sonja points out the happiest people have their share of stress, crises, and even tragedies. They may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or I. Their secret is consistently applying a few of the actions above, and as a result they cope more effectively in the face of life’s challenges.
You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.Elizabeth Gilbert
Here are some examples from my life:
- The other day while in a coffee shop I saw an elderly woman struggling to get out of her car because the wind was so strong it kept pushing the door closed on her. So I popped out of my chair and went out to help her. Frankly it made me as happy as it did her!
- Check out this very simple high intensity exercise that can be done in just 4 minutes. My goal is to do it twice a day.
- I perform improv regularly which can be scary, full of joy and loads of fun!
If you’re interested in reading the book or listening to an audio version, you can find it here.