I’m just about to finish reading a book called The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. Lyubomirsky is a psychologist and presents strategies in her book that have actually been tested on people and have been proven to make them happy in the long run.
The most surprising information in this book was for me that 50% of how happy we are is down to our genes (quite a lot!), 10% to our circumstances (not much at all) and 40% to the way we think.
So having a bigger house, finding your soul mate, winning the lottery, getting your dream job, or whatever you think it is will make you happy, will actually only make you happier by 10% because you’ll soon adapt to the change and it won’t make you so happy as you thought in the long run.
Lyuobomirsky’s happiness strategies are:
- Thinking positively and being optimistic – imagining and writing down how and where you would would like to be in the future, 5, 10 years from now, which will make you actually realise where you want to be and you should start to work towards it
- Practice gratitude – be grateful for everything you have and make a point of writing it down regularly
- Avoid over thinking and social comparison – over thinking about things that happened serves no purpose, so just forget about it and don’t compare yourself to others, because there will always be someone who’s doing better than you. Just do what you want to do and don’t care what anyone else thinks about it
- Invest in social connections, make an effort with your friends and family and make an effort to meet new ones
- Practice acts of kindness
- Learn to forgive
- Live in the present
- Increase your flow experiences
- Savour life’s joys
- Reminisce about the good times – you can do this by creating a savouring album where you put lots of things that you like, pictures of your family, friends, your favourite places, experiences, poems, quotes etc. and then every time you look at it will provide positive emotions for you
- Commit to your goals – all happy people have goals they want to achieve, so go for them and if you haven’t got any then create some
- Practice religion or spirituality – religious and spiritual people are happier than non spiritual people
- Take good care of your body, exercise and eat healthy
Lyuobomirsky says that achieving happiness is hard work, it doesn’t just come to you as most people believe, you need to make it happen. She argues that just like any goal, happiness needs to be made time for and pursued, like it was exercise for example. To get fit you go to the gym 3 times a week, so to be happy you equally need to make some time and put some concentrated effort into achieving this.