Happiness and emotions

Happiness

26 JULY 2021.  By Nadine Hickman

The mind has fascinated me from a young age. I was introduced to the power of the mind when I worked with sports psychologists during my gymnastics career.  In my teens and early twenties, my mind caused me so much turmoil that I was determined to learn ways to make my mind, my friend. Even today, I'm acutely aware of how my experience of life is dramatically affected by how I'm feeling mentally. 

The science of wellbeing is a field that excites me, I love how the pursuit of happiness has gone from a fluffy concept to a legitimate and worthwhile goal. 

Science has brought us tried and tested theories and strategies to help us realise that lasting happiness is a goal we can all aspire to and achieve.

The piechart of happiness concept from the book, 'The How of Happiness' by Sonya Lyubomirsky, demonstrates that 40% of our capacity for happiness is within our control. How empowering to discover that no matter what our genes, or our life circumstances, we have a large chunk of wiggle room to work with.

Happiness pie chart

50% of our happiness is determined by our genetics

​Author Sonya likens our genetic happiness set point to other set points that exist within us. We also have a set point for things like weight, cholesterol and intelligence. We all know people who can easily maintain their weight without even trying, just as we know people who seem to be blessed with a happy disposition and optimistic outlook. It's healthy and helpful to acknowledge the genetic component of happiness, but important not to get stuck there. Take heart in knowing that no matter what your genes, you still have a large amount of room to manoeuvre. You may have to work a little harder at it, just as some have to work harder to maintain their weight. Rest assured, any effort you put in to the pursuit of happiness has immense benefits - it's so worth it.

10% of our happiness is impacted by our circumstances.

This is surprising to many and counterintuitive, for many people feel that the major contributing factor to their level of happiness is the circumstances of their life. We put large amounts of effort into controlling and changing our circumstances in order to be happier.

 

Have you ever said or felt, "I'll be happy when... I get, I am, I have..." ?

 

The reality is that our circumstances or life situation, like income or marital status, contribute only 10%  to our overall happiness. A great deal of science backs up this conclusion and the knowledge of it is liberating. We can relax our firm grasp on trying to mould the world around us. Any happiness we do experience from 'getting what we want' is fleeting and temporary.

40% of our happiness is influenced by our thoughts and intentional activities.

Finally, the exciting part! The portion of happiness that IS within our control. A whopping 40% of our happiness lies in our daily intentional activities - what we do and how we choose to think. We have 40% room to manoeuvre.

 

Author Sonya says, "This is terrific news. It means that all of us could be a great deal happier, if we scrutinise carefully what precise behaviours and thoughts very happy people naturally and habitually engage in."


This is exactly what Sonya set out to do in her research and she published the findings in her book.


​You have within you a large, untapped potential for increasing your own happiness.  Now all that is left to do, is learn a few of the many happiness-increasing strategies that science has given us and experiment with which ones work best for you.

 

Create your own happy mix!

 


The knowledge that we have the potential to help ourselves increase our own levels of happiness got me so excited that I wanted everyone to know about it, especially given the worsening mental health situation in our society. A desire to educate and empower was my motivation to launch the publication PEPTALK. I was determined to find an effective way to educate people with this knowledge, empower them with tools and strategies, and finally, inspire them to put it into practice.

​I wanted to plant seeds that would help others experience the rewards for themselves, because even with all of the science and research that now exists, I feel there is no better evidence than experience. 

Delve deeper and learn happiness-enhancing strategies with PEPTALK Magazine.

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ABOUT US

PEPTALK Media is a not-for-profit organisation which creates innovative resources to educate and empower kiwis with the skills to build and nurture a resilient, healthy mind. We believe this upstream, protective approach of helping people to help themselves, and others, is a powerful way to transform the future of mental health in New Zealand.

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