The Driver's Seat to Happiness
The word happiness originates from the word “hap” which means chance or fortune. However, research in the field of positive psychology indicates that happiness is not as random as we think. According to psychologist Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, of the University of California, Riverside, 50% of happiness is genetic, 10% is life circumstances, and 40% of our happiness comes from intentional activity.
So, how can we generate more happiness into our daily experience with intentional activity? One way is to increase the number of positive emotions we experience throughout the day and it’s easier than most think. Often when people think about feeling good the emotion of “cartwheel-happy” joy comes to mind. However, there are other positive emotions that exist and can be self-generated by the activities we choose. Leading positive psychologist, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, researched 10 positive emotions. They include joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love.
What are some activities that prompt positive emotions? Gratitude journals or "3 Good Things" exercises in which 3 things that went well that day are identified each evening. Watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset can prompt awe and reading an interesting book are examples of increasing positive emotions.
Making time to experience positive emotions isn’t a luxury it’s a necessity. Just as phones need to be charged and cars need to be fueled, people need to rejuvenate. Practicing daily habits that prompt positive emotions not only help us feel happier through out the day they also help us bounce back faster from daily stressors. Dr. Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory suggests that experiencing positive emotions helps build perspective, increase creativity, and broaden problem-solving skills which make us more resilient.
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