Todd just wanted to be happy. He was feeling overwhelmed by a demanding job, and his desire to really be the best dad and husband. He began thinking how I am savoring my life? Once struggling with work-life balance, he found the pressures of work to take him away from what he loved most, his two boys and wife. He decided to take a leap into one of his passions and purchased a new racing bike. After talking to his wife about a new bike and the desire they had to remodel their kitchen, she talked him into the bike as she felt it was something he needed to maintain what little sanity he had remaining. How many spouses do you know that would sacrifice a complete kitchen remodel for their spouse to get a new bike? Todd was happy!
A big myth is that happiness is something we must find. If only…we get “the job,” marry our love, or lose weight. Science has discovered that 10% is determined by our circumstances, 50% by our set point, genetically determined, and 40% by our intentional activities.
What Determines Happiness?*
Only 10% of our happiness is explained by circumstances or situations if we are rich or poor, thin or fat, married or divorced. Riches and perfect health have only a short term effect on happiness. Studies have demonstrated that Americans earning more than ten million dollars annually reported personal happiness only slightly greater than blue-collar workers they employ.
50% Set Point and Genetics
50% of our happiness is our set point that originates from our biological mother or father or both. It is a baseline to which we are bound to return, even after major setbacks of big triumphs. It is similar to our set point for our weight. Some skinny people can eat all they want and not gain weight and others smell food and gain a few pounds. This happiness set point governs how happy we will be over the course of our lives.
40% Intentional Activities
The secret to happiness is not changing your genetic makeup or acquiring more wealth and possessions, rather it is all about being in charge of your behavior. 40% of our happiness is determined by our choices. How easy is that! But what gets in our way? The overwhelming feeling we experience by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, stop use the ABC to happiness formula.
A Awareness – just notice that you are overwhelmed (do nothing else)
B Breath – don’t even think…just take a breath or two (notice your breath)
C Choice – Tell yourself you have a choice!
You choose your behaviors. The happiest people are “people persons” and love spending time with their family and friends. They express gratitude. They are the first to volunteer to help you out. They think about their future and make things happen. They possess a commitment to their life long goals and usually have a bucket list. They savor their daily joys and live in the present, not the future.
I wrote back to Todd and said his kids would remember MORE the family meals and warm conversations rather than the new stainless steel fridge and granite countertops. Memories, not stuff. Todd just returned from a family vacation. He owns his life again. He quit waiting. What about you?
Happy people don’t sit around waiting to be happy. They make things happen. You may have thought it was important to work at achieving your career goals or getting promoted to “the job,” but the most important work you will ever do is your “work” at being happy. It will be the most rewarding work of your life. Remember happy people love who they are, love what they do, and love how they do it. You only have one life to live, just imagine if it was one you truly loved! How lucky are you…you own 40%!
*The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Chere Bork, MS RDN
Chere Bork, Registered Dietitian, Certified Wellcoach®, and Law of Attraction Facilitator inspires people to energize their lives and their businesses. She has 3 decades of experience helping others discover their purpose, energy, and their waistlines. Chere is known as the “positive energy wonder worker” and has the reputation for being the how-to expert to energize your life and attract more health, happiness, and life balance. She wants you to remember, you have only one life to live, just imagine if it was the one you loved. You can reach her at cherebork.com.