Source | THe Huffington Post : By Dr. Traviss BradBerry
It’s no secret that we’re obsessed with happiness. After all, the “pursuit of happiness” is even enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. But happiness is fleeting. How can we find it and keep it alive?
Psychologists at the University of California have discovered some fascinating things about happiness that could change your life.
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky is a psychology professor at the Riverside campus who is known among her peers as “the queen of happiness.” She began studying happiness as a grad student and never stopped, devoting her career to the subject.
One of her main discoveries is that we all have a happiness “set point.” When extremely positive or negative events happen—such as buying a bigger house or losing a job—they temporarily increase or decrease our happiness, but we eventually drift back to our set point.
The breakthrough in Dr. Lyubomirsky’s research is that you can make yourself happier—permanently. Lyubomirsky has found that our genetic set point is responsible for only about 50% of our happiness, life circumstances affect about 10%, and a whopping 40% is completely up to us. The large portion of your happiness that you control is determined by your habits, attitude, and outlook on life.
“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” – Aristotle
Even when you accomplish something great, that high won’t last. It won’t make you happy on its own; you have to work to make and keep yourself happy.
Your happiness, or lack thereof, is rooted in your habits. Permanently adopting new habits—especially those that involve intangibles, such as how you see the world—is hard, but breaking the habits that make you unhappy is much easier. Doing so requires emotional intelligence, a skill that you can measure with an emotional intelligence test.
There are numerous bad habits that tend to make us unhappy. Eradicating these bad habits can move your happiness set point in short order.
Immunity to awe. Amazing things happen around you every day if you only know where to look. Technology has exposed us to so much and made the world so much smaller. Yet, there’s a downside that isn’t spoken of much: exposure raises the bar on what it takes to be awestricken. And that’s a shame, because few things are as uplifting as experiencing true awe. True awe is humbling. It reminds us that we’re not the center of the universe. Awe is also inspiring and full of wonder, underscoring the richness of life and our ability to both contribute to it and be captivated by it. It’s hard to be happy when you just shrug your shoulders every time you see something new.
Isolating yourself. Isolating yourself from social contact is a pretty common response to feeling unhappy, but there’s a large body of research that says it’s the worst thing you can do. This is a huge mistake, as socializing, even when you don’t enjoy it, is great for your mood. We all have those days when we just want to pull the covers over our heads and refuse to talk to anybody, but the moment this becomes a tendency, it destroys your mood. Recognize that when unhappiness is making you antisocial, you need to force yourself to get out there and mingle. You’ll notice the difference right away.
Blaming. We need to feel in control of our lives in order to be happy, which is why blaming is so incompatible with happiness. When you blame other people or circumstances for the bad things that happen to you, you’ve decided that you have no control over your life, which is terrible for your mood.
Controlling. It’s hard to be happy without feeling in control of your life, but you can take this too far in the other direction by making yourself unhappy through trying to control too much. This is especially true with people. The only person you can control in your life is you. When you feel that nagging desire to dictate other people’s behavior, this will inevitably blow up in your face and make you unhappy. Even if you can control someone in the short term, it usually requires pressure in the form of force or fear, and treating people this way won’t leave you feeling good about yourself.