The Seemingly Endless Pursuit of Happiness

Why is it that the most popular class on the Yale college campus is Psychology and the Good Life, taught by Professor Laurie Santos? We humans have sought the “good life” forever, always hoping to find the spot where all is totally fine. In reality, there are several things that can affect your happiness once all of your basic needs are met. Recent research has shown that 50%, or half of your perception of happiness is because of genes – things totally out of your control. These are things like energy level, gregariousness, Intelligence, aptitudes, etc. Around 10% can be accounted for by events that are happening around you – somewhat out of your control. These are things like disasters, pandemics, or the weather. Then there is 40% of your perception of well being that is determined by your thoughts and actions that you do control. These are your common ways of talking to yourself about how you view various situations, people, and events in your life. 

It follows that most people in the study said that it was the 10% that gave them the most trouble day in and day out. They overlooked the large impact it could have if we just changed how we thought and responded to things I our lives. What are the five habits of people that describe themselves as happy?

  • Most of the people practiced gratitude, by journaling daily.
  • They also practiced optimism by getting rid of automatic negative thoughts (ANTS).
  • They exercised regularly, usually 30 minutes or more, five days a week
  • They spent time on relationships with friends and family by phoning, writing and practicing time management.
  • They really strived to live in the moment…not yesterday or tomorrow which significantly decreases anxiety because of all the “what ifs” we worry about.

A Professional Life Coach can help you develop a plan to implement strategies and programs in your life to accomplish these five habits.

Stephen L. Watson, Ph.D., Savannah Educational Consultants