The Science of Happiness
I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy. ~J.D. Salinger
I came across an article recently in the LA Times by Karen Kaplan centered on the science of happiness. From the article,
“Among the many wise things said by President Abraham Lincoln is this take on happiness: A person will be just about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.
That sentiment is somewhat controversial among psychologists and other scientists. Some experts believe that long-term happiness is essentially unchangeable, thanks to one’s genes and personality. (One study has pegged DNA as the source of 44% to 52% of one’s happiness.) Many economists and other experts believe, like Lincoln, that people can take steps to become more — or less — happy.”
Like most things this comes back to the old argument is it nature or nurture but I would put forward that in fact, the argument is irrelevant. You may have a predisposition to be happier or sadder than others but that is just a starting point. Regardless of this starting point, which would be normal for you, you can always find ways to make your life happier, hell for most of us that could include things as simple as getting enough sleep.
The article also went on to list a set of factors that add to or detract from our happiness. I think most are pretty obvious but for your own edification here is the list:
- Having an emotionally stable spouse
- Helping others
- Prioritizing family
- Have an active social life
- Get regular exercise
This list strikes me as pretty simple as it focuses on reducing stress (stable relationships, enjoying life and exercising) and doing things that you can feel proud of (taking care of others). However as with most things very often it is the simple things that best help us achieve our goals.
Below is the link to the LA Times piece: