Wellness Family Dentistry

Choosing Happiness

October 14, 2020
Posted By: Magna Porterfield, Ph.D. (Psychologist)

There are many who are searching for happiness.  But, what is happiness? And, how do we obtain it? First of all, it is important to define happiness.  A simple definition would be “a state of well-being.”  Many people may not be diagnosed with depression, so to speak. But if they were honest with themselves, a large portion would have to admit that they are not in the best state of well-being – which means that they are not truly happy.

So, what determines our happiness? Research suggest that 50% of our happiness comes from genes, 10% from our life circumstances, and 40% from what we do.  This last percentage (40%) is very critical because it tells us that we can do something about our happiness.  Granted, some may have to do a little more than others (because of what they are born with or their life circumstances). But because genetics and circumstances do not account for 100% of our happiness, we can say that no one is doomed to unhappiness.

What are some things we can do to help us experience happiness? To answer this question, researchers have studied the lives of genuinely happy people and discovered some common habits or characteristics that they display. Here are a just a few of them:

They develop skills of resilience
Resilience is the ability to bounce back after adversity.  Dr. Jaime Kurtz (a psychologist) tells us that happy people don’t live in denial and are not of touch with reality.  They have just learned to develop coping strategies to deal effectively with difficulties.  This includes knowing to look for something good in adversity, take steps to deal with their situations, and learn how to live with difficulties they can’t change.

They have mutually supportive relationships
The basic summary of years of happiness research reveal that the quality of a person’s social connections (with family, friends, neighbors, etc.) is very closely tied to well-being. It is important to be in relationships where both parties are supporting and encouraging one another. People with quality relationships are less likely to experience loneliness, sadness, etc.

They express gratitude
Happy people look for things or people for whom they are grateful. They spend more time focusing on this than on what they don’t like in their lives.  They can even find blessings, so to speak, when things are bad or when facing adversity.

They engage in random deeds of kindness
Studies show that if you do several random acts of kindness each day, this can have a positive impact on your mental health. Happy people tend to do this frequently. Such acts may include, donating money, letting someone get ahead of you in a line, baby sitting for someone who rarely gets “kids free time,” just to name a few.

They don’t compare themselves to others
The happiest people do not constantly compare themselves with the success of others.  And, this is especially true for comparisons with people they know – such as neighbors, relatives, or friends.

They tend to be more religious/spiritual
There is evidence that people who are religious and spiritual tend to feel happier.  This may be because when we are religious/spiritual we experience more love, wonder, and awe.  Experts also tell us that religion, in particular, gives us social support and contact and provides a moral compass, which can also contribute to happiness.

So, how much of these habits do you practice? The good news is that you can become a more happy person by incorporating more of these activities in your life. Happiness is definitely a choice and you can choose to be happy by engaging in these habits.  Why not make that decision today? You will be the better for it!



Photo by: Naassom Azevedo

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