Is happiness genetically predetermined, or is it something you can change? Through studies with genetically identical twins, researchers discovered part of the answer. 50% of our happiness is genetically determined. What then about the other 50%, is this in our power to change?
Can our circumstances, how much money we have, whether we are in a good relationship or how good looking we are, change our happiness? Do these things determine a large percentage of our happiness? Things that make up our circumstances determine a very small 10% of our overall happiness. Why only 10%, surely these are the things that make the difference?
The reason for the small percentage of difference that these seemingly big things make is that we adapt. We think that more money, better health or marriage will make us happier and they do for a while, but then we adapt to the new circumstances and we usually return to the level of happiness we experienced before the change.
What about the remaining 40%, is this in our hands to change? What makes up this 40 %? Forty percent of your happiness is determined by the things that you do, your behavior or intentional activities.
Happy people seek out new experiences, set higher goals and interact with new people.
Positive Psychology research studies happy people and boils down their behaviour into activities we can incorporate into our lives. Simple things you can do, form into habits which are aimed at increasing the 40% of your happiness that you can change.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Penguin Press HC