Do Want to be Happier? Here's How!

Apr 18, 2016 by Reen Rose

Is Happiness Really a Choice?

Everything in life has a certain level of choice attached to it, even those things that seem not to. You don’t HAVE to pay your taxes, feed your kids, or go out on a Friday night – just saying! Everything we do involves choice.

What doesn’t involve choice is our genetic make-up. We have no say over the genes we inherit from our parents and some people do better when those dice are rolled than others. One of the traits we inherit is our natural feeling of well-being. For anyone that comes from a long line of Eeyore type personalities, don’t despair; not all of our happiness comes from genetics.

Research has found that our level of happiness comes from 3 different areas. One is our genetic make-up. Studies carried out on numerous sets of twins shows that about 50% of our happiness is a result of our genetic make-up; some studies suggest it is closer to 40%.

The second area is circumstance. If you think changing your circumstances (winning the lottery, finding the partner of your dreams, achieving success in business) is the key to a happy life, I am here to disappoint you. Only about 10% of your positive feelings come from your environment. You may get an initial boost of positivity when your circumstances change for the better, but in no time you will be back to your previous level of happiness.

The variable that you can affect is the 40% - 50% of well-being that comes from intentional activity.

I’m sure you have heard of and/or read about mindfulness; the importance of being conscious or aware of something, not just doing it as a matter of routine or habit. Intentional activity could well be renamed ‘mindful activity.’ If you want to increase your feelings of well-being then it is time to make a conscious decision to increase the types of activities that will help you do that.

Examples of intentional activities are:

  • Writing down or voicing things that you are grateful for
  • Doing kind deeds for people for no reason and without premeditated thought
  • Setting goals and working to achieve them
  • Making or strengthening your social connections
  • Taking time to do something for yourself

Intentional activity can be increased in all areas of your life, including your work life. Doing that is a choice. It’s up to you whether or not you choose to live a happier life.