Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. Benjamin DisraeliI am feeling happy this morning. The sky is blue. Birds twitter and tweet in the pine tree outside my office window. Ellie is lying on the rug behind my desk. The morning unfolds and I awaken in its embrace opening me up to possibility.
Happiness. That sweet nectar of life flowing in my being. Joyful. Peaceful. Replete. I feel happy. My happy thoughts create a sense of well-being around me.
We each have a 'happiness set-point' that is genetically imprinted on our DNA. According to the American Happiness Association, (AHA), in a study by Tellegen and associates conducted comparing twins reared apart and together, this set-point was attributed to account for 50% of our happiness disposition(1). Life the cup half-full or half-empty, our set-point, can be raised by our actions, thoughts and the world around us.
Want to be happier?
Get busy doing things that make you feel better about yourself, that make a difference in the world around you. Get thinking about yourself in ways that honour your beauty, get thinking about yourself in love.
Yesterday, I loaded the video of Ben E. King's Stand by Me, which we created at the shelter where I work. Working on this project made me happy. It also made everyone we worked with happy too, including the director who had lost his wife of twenty-eight years to cancer during the filming. "This project was a God-send to me," he told me one day as we sat in the editing suite. "I feel better listening and watching it. It has given me something positive to focus on at a time I desperately needed it."
Last night I sent the you.tube link to all our staff at the shelter, as well as to people in my contact list. It was wonderful to hear back from people I don't communicate with very often. It made me happy!
Last night, my daughters invited me to join them for yoga. It made me happy to spend time with them doing something we all enjoy. In my gratitude of time with them, and time meditating in yoga, I felt happy.
In a newsletter published by AHA! they suggest, if you are not feeling particularly happy in this moment -- Change one thing.
If your face is feeling tight. Smile.
If your body is tense. Consciously relax.
Make a list of things you like to do and ask yourself, am I doing enough of this? If not, what's holding you back? Can you fit it into your day today? If you like gardening, can you go out and water your plants every morning before going to work? If you like walking, can you go out for a ten minute walk every morning before starting your day?
If the news makes you unhappy, turn off the news for a day. Don't watch TV. Don't read the paper.
If you lie on the couch every night watching two or three hours (or more as is the case in most Canadian homes), turn off the TV and go for a walk with your loved ones, or play a game. Do something different to rev up your happiness set-point -- and your intimacy level with those you love.
Is your bedroom closet cluttered? How about de-cluttering? Put on some wild and crazy music -- Liseanne my youngest daughter used to clean her room to opera music blaring -- dance and clean at the same time. Get wild.
Do you love to bake? How about baking some cookies and taking them to the senior's residence down the street, or sharing them with a neighbour? The act of baking married with the goodwill of sharing will raise your happiness set-point.
Change one thing.
Look at your life today and ask yourself -- what one thing can I change that will raise the bar on my happiness today?
And then do it!
Happiness is a state of mind that is strengthened in our gratitude for all we have. If all you can do today is make a gratitude list, Do It Now! Write a list of five things you are grateful for.
This morning, my gratitude list is:
- I have a computer I can type on, the ability to write, and people I connect with through my writing.
- I have a warm cup of coffee -- yummy!
- I have a job I love to go to.
- A man I love who loves me.
- A family who are outstanding!
- Two daughter whom love to spend time with me.
- A painting I'm working on that brings me joy.
- A home of my own.
- A car to carry me around.
- Good health and well-being.
- Eyes to see the beauty of the world around me.
- An email from a friend I haven't heard from in awhile.
- Friends who are incredibly giving and kind and caring.
And I could go on. Get the picture? Gratitude is the starting point of all that makes me happy. As my friend Joe wrote to me yesterday, I believe that expressing gratitude - to ourselves and to those around us - may be the perfect expression of self love. Wouldn't it be wonderful to live there all the time?
Yes, it would. Living there is a choice. Gratitude is the road we walk to get there.
The question is: What's one thing you can change today to raise your happiness set-point? Are you willing to let yourself be happy by being the change you want to have in your life?(1) Tellegen, A., Lykken, D.T., Bouchard, T.J., Wilcox, K.J., Segal, N.L., and Rich, S. (1988). Personality similarity in twins reared apart and together. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1031-39