Where do we get our happiness from?
For the last couple of editions of this newsletter I have been talking about some of the more practical aspects of positive psychology. Some of the best evidence that has come out of this relatively new field of science has been to analyse where we get our ‘happiness' from. The results show that about 40% of it is inherited, 10% can be affected by particular circumstances and the remaining 40% is to do with our own habits, thoughts and behaviours. Studies also show that this 40% that we can change can have an effect on the part that is inherited.
There are some particularly interesting examples I have come across recently of how individuals' own difficult and sometimes traumatic upbringing have had a profound impact for the better on their lives as adults.
Gordon Ramsay, the very popular and successful TV chef was brought up in a very violent household, with an alcoholic and abusive father who was constantly moving the family and a brother who became a heroine addict. Gordon also failed in his first career as a footballer.
The childhood and upbringing of Auckland's mayor, John Banks has also been well documented. He was raised by other friends and relatives and when he was reunited with his parents at the age of 15, he discovered that they had been in and out of jail on a variety of charges ranging from sly-grogging to breaking and entering for most of that time. He had an alcoholic mother and a congenitally criminal father.
People with histories like Gordon and John face huge odds of ever becoming successes and leading >very productive lives. But this shows that some people do make a spectacular success of their lives despite the odds being against them. So happiness can be created despite pour circumstances and our DNA.
The home of happiness
Marci Shimoff, author of ‘Happiness for no reason' talks about 7 areas that we need to work on tocreate happiness. She uses different areas of a house to describe these:
1The foundations - taking responsibility for your life and not getting stuck in blaming, shaming or complaining.
2The four pillars: The first is the mind - we live our lives with a negativity bias, 80% of our thoughts are negative and these are the thoughts we remember most. We need to look for and pay attention to what is good.
3The second pillar is the heart. We can live with an ‘open heart' by being open to love, new experiences and being grateful.
4The third is the body. We can become more aware of the bio-chemicals such as serotonin and the endorphins that make us feel good, have good sleep patterns and get exercise.
5The fourth pillar is the soul, being connected to a deeper sense of spirit.
6Our purpose and passion in life is represented by the roof.
7And finally the garden is about who we surround ourselves with. It is important to develop a support network of happy people. It has been said that our state of happiness is the average of the 5 people we spend most time with.
For more about Marci Shimoff's work look at this: I would like to hear what you have to say about this topic.
Do you have s story to share about your own pursuit of happiness or that of a friend?
As you can see my web site is now up and running here at www.reviveandthrivecoaching.com Please let me know your comments about it. Remember it is only a youngster so needs some praise but it can take some criticism!
Until next time! Ron
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. Albert Schweitzer