What percentage of our happiness depends on our will?
Aug 25, 2022
According to the investigations of Sonja Lyubumoirsky, author of the book The science of happines, the circumstances of our life, such as the place where we were born or the job we have, determine our happiness only by 10%.
The other 50% depends on our genetic inheritance and the remaining 40% depends on what we think and how we deliberately act. That is the deciding factor and where our range of action lies.
- Related article: "About happiness: what is it that we all seek?"
Genetic Inheritance (50%)
It is undeniable that the percentage that genetics takes is really important. When we talk about genetic inheritance we talk about the chemistry of our brain. A complex system of nerves, neurons, synapses, and various biochemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin are what generate the sensations of pleasure and happiness that we experience in the brain.
These chemical reactions were evolutionarily shaped to promote the survival and reproduction of the species. Hence the pleasurable sensation generated by sex or the acceleration of our breathing when we feel fear: our body is preparing to escape.
But the individual chemistry of each is largely determined by the inheritance we receive from our biological parents. Hence, it is considered a risk factor for depression to have parents who have gone through the same illness.
- You may be interested: "What is DNA? Its characteristics, parts and functions"
External circumstances (10%)
The fact of being rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, married or divorced, beautiful or simple, driving a new or old car, do not represent more than ten percent. This explains why some slum kids can be as happy or happier than first world millionaires. The "things" and other circumstances simply they don't have much impact on happiness.
Why do circumstances represent so little?
By a very powerful force that psychologists call "hedonistic adaptation".
At first, we react strongly to changing circumstances, but over time their emotional impact fades. We take the good things for granted. In other words, we adapt. No doubt you have experienced this in your own life. The initial thrill of a new house, car, or pay raise is wonderful, but the enjoyment rarely lasts more than a few weeks.
- Related article: "90 phrases of happiness and joy to value life"
Intentional activity (40%)
This percentage refers to our behavior: what we do and how we think. The happiest people, in this sense, are those who engage in behaviors that increase their happiness, such as spending time with their family, practicing optimism, exercising regularly, savoring life's pleasures, living in the present moment, or expressing gratitude for what have.
This puts us in a position of advantage. That 40% is still quite influential. Hence, the key to happiness is not changing your genes (which is impossible) or change your circumstances (which is difficult and impractical), but to change what you do and how you think
- You may be interested: "Personal Development: 5 reasons for self-reflection"
happiness requires effort
Many of us find it difficult to apply the notion of effort to our emotional or mental lives.
Consider how much time and commitment many people put into physical exercise, whether it's going to the gym, jogging, kickboxing, or yoga. Research reveals that if we want greater happiness, we must do it in a similar way. In other words, being happier in a lasting way requires making some permanent changes in the way we think and act (read: not our circumstances) that require effort and commitment every day of your life.
The 12 activities for happiness backed by science, which are extracted from the book "The Science of Happiness" by the expert Sonja Lyubomirsky names the following:
- Express gratitude.
- Cultivate optimism.
- Avoid excessive thinking and comparison.
- Practice kindness.
- Practice acts of kindness.
- Promote and nurture social relationships.
- Develop strategies to cope with stress.
- Cultivate flow experiences.
- Savor the joys of life, however simple or small.
- Practice spirituality (not necessarily religion).
- Take care of your body: Practice physical activity and meditation.
- Related article:
The practice that unites all activities for happiness: Mindfulness
A series of studies conducted at the University of Rochester focused on people who regularly practiced mindfulness. It turns out that such individuals are models of flourishing mental health.
Relative to the average person, they are more likely to be happy, optimistic, self-assured, and satisfied with their lives, and less likely to be depressed, angry, anxious, hostile, self-conscious, impulsive, or neurotic.
How to practice it?
Informal practice does not require taking any time out of your day; you simply do what you are currently doing consciously. We call this mindful eating, mindful cooking, mindful showering, or mindful commuting. Whatever you do, you give it your full attention and you don't think about anything other than what you are doing, which anchors you to the present.
When you get lost in your thoughts, you refocus your attention on the task at hand. Easier said than done, but that's the gist.
The formal practice is meditation, an activity in which we seek to focus attention on the present moment through different techniques such as breathing, progressive body scanning, mantras, etc.
If you're new to this, you'll want to start with formal practice to get a feel for what mindfulness entails and what it feels like. If you're going to take the plunge, download Purely App and you will find countless exercises and meditation guides for beginners completely free.
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