Life potentials How to become happy in life

Our external circumstances predict only about 10 percent of our total happiness. The rest is up to you!

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External circumstances account for 10  of happiness

Happiness is not a result of your circumstances

If only 10 percent of our total level of happiness is decided by external factors such as our job, income, and material possessions then what about the remaining 90 percent?

Good question, right?

Well, as you might have guessed internal factors account for the rest. Or put differently it’s your mindset that accounts for the remaining 90 percent. Especially our view on how much control we have over our own life and future.

This is why some happiness researchers prefer to use terms like “creation or construction of happiness” instead of “pursuit of happiness”. “Pursuit” implies that happiness is something we should chase after whereas “creation or construction“ refers more to the internal side of becoming happy in life.

And since research shows that 90 percent of our level of happiness is decided by internal factors it makes sense to focus on how we can create and enhance our sense of wellbeing and become happy in life.

How you perceive a given situation 

The internal / mindset component of happiness has a lot to do with how you choose to see a given situation. For example, how you look at your work makes a huge difference on your job satisfaction and general level of well-being and happiness.

You can either view your work as simply a job, as a career, or as a calling. People who see their work as a calling are much happier than people who see it as simply a job to put food on the table while waiting for the weekend.

Note that we are not talking about the job itself here. Research shows that there are people who perceives their work as a calling in all areas and that the kind of job basically doesn’t matter. The mindset is just as important as the actual work.

Be(come) grateful 

According to the research few things are as important to our well-being and happiness as the capacity to feel grateful for the good things in your life.

People who are grateful have more energy, are less likely to be depressed and more likely to be happy. And bear in mind that these positive effects don’t result from external factors such as higher income or better jobs. We’re talking about the ability to express gratitude in a given situation. And this is something you can work with.

In a study, people “trained” to become more grateful became happier and more optimistic over a period of only a few weeks. They even felt more socially connected and experiences other positive effect. Note that nothing in their “objective” situation changes. They simply learned to appreciate their current situation more - and this actually gave them the energy and optimism to change the areas of their lives that needed improvement.

We can’t change reality through sheer force of will but we can change how we process the world around us. Gratitude is not about lying to ourselves, or denying the negative, but about focusing on what is good and then using the energy this gives us to make adjustments in our lives.


The Happiness Advantage

Read more about the good things that come from gratitude and other insights about what makes us happy and optimistic in the book “The Happiness Advantage” by Harvard graduate Shawn Achor.


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