Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Happiness is a Skill
A few years ago, Sara and I had a conversation about happiness. I remember the conversation pretty vividly, or at least parts of it. One argument we had was what happiness was - how it was defined and whether or not one could be in a constant state of happiness. My argument was, “Happiness is a moment - it’s a passing feeling - not a constant state of being.”
Sara argued that one could be happy - overall - with just periods of unhappiness.
Now, I wouldn’t say Sara is a “constantly happy person”, but unlike many of my friends, Sara’s ability to bounce back from negative events has always impressed me. I think this is what drew me to being friends with Sara in the first place. Conversely, my inability to bounce back is probably what has repelled her from continuing our friendship. I think she gets frustrated with my, uh, wallowing.
In any case, the more research I’ve done and the more thought I’ve put into it, I think we were both wrong. Or both only partially right.
Happiness is a skill. And like almost everything, some people are born with more natural talent for it than others. Happiness research shows that 50% of our “base” level of happiness is genetic. Shockingly, only 10% is circumstances - those are the “fleeting” moments I was referring to. 40% is really more skill based, or more to the point, how we choose to live our lives.
There’s no denying that if your belly is empty and your body is cold, happiness may be harder to achieve, but - money, status, influence, beauty? Not measurements of happiness - or if they are - they are really only included in that small 10% of our overall happiness. Happiness comes not from without, but from within. And it’s not something that just typically “happens” - like all good things in life - ya gotta work at it. But there’s the key - working at it is what makes you happy.
I’m not big on New Years Resolutions - but I think practicing happiness is a dose of medicine we could all use.
Krush at 01/02/13 07:43 AM
Where is your “LIKE” button!?! That last line is so true!!! Can I steal it?
Liberty at 01/02/13 08:06 AM
You can steal from me, anytime. Glad you liked it.
mamaerica at 01/02/13 07:44 PM
Agreed! Love it. And in many ways, that’s my NYR every year in some form or another. I’m striving for contentment, really, that sense of purpose and joy in what I’m doing and who I am that becomes the undercurrent of life. Take me on this journey with you! I think it’ll be a fantastic ride!