7 Ways to Raise Your Happiness Set Point ©2016
by Jolie Engelbrecht
As a life coach, I am in the business of helping my clients reach their goals. Sometimes the goals are small and sometimes they are big, but one thing I hear a lot is, “I’ll be happy when…”
I will be happy when I win the lottery. I will be happy when I retire. I will be happy when my kids are grown up, or when I get that new job, or house, or find a relationship. I always tell them that it is SUPER, but that it is WAY more important to increase your happiness right now.
You see, we all have a happiness set point. When life is rolling along and no major events are happening, we have a comfortable plateau we sit at as far as our happiness level goes. Studies involving twins show that our natural disposition, or happiness level, is influenced by genetics by up to 50 per cent and a further 10 per cent is influenced by factors out of our control, but that final 40 per cent is all up to us. Forty per cent is a great amount with which to work. We can do many things to influence our level of happiness.
When a major life event happens, our natural happiness level only spikes or dips temporarily. That means if you win the lottery, you may be happier for a while but eventually you will correct back to your natural happiness level. The same goes if something happens in your life that would cause your level to dip. Barring slipping into a clinically depressed state—an event like a spinal cord injury would cause a temporary decrease—but again, if you naturally live happy then you will get back to that eventually.
If you put a little work into intentionally raising your set point every day, it will change your life. Not only will you be happier while you wait to win the lottery, but you will create a cushion for yourself if something bad happens. Increasing your everyday happiness helps to make you resilient.
So the big question is, “How do I do this?”
- Meditate. Meditation isn’t always sitting cross-legged and chanting. There are many, many ways to meditate, both sitting still and moving. Guided meditations can help you remove blocks or enter a deeper relaxed state. Repetitive actions like running, walking, or colouring can also put you in a light meditative state. There are many ways and they are all the right ones if they work for YOU. The most important thing is that you take time to actually do it.
- Gratitude. We are so busy living life that we often forget all the wonderful things that are right under our nose. I often suggest a gratitude journal, but if that is not your thing, stop one day and make a list of 50 to 100 things for which you are grateful. It is good to have a big enough list that you get past the things you are just always grateful for—your family, your dog, your job perhaps—and get to the little things, too, like the sparkle on the snow, the kiss your teenager dropped on your head, or the smell of the coffee in the morning.
- Do something kind for someone else. This can be big or small. It can be a genuine compliment, a gift, or opening a door. The idea is to look beyond yourself and be in service to someone, whether you know them or not.
- Do something kind for yourself. We often forget ourselves in the kindness equation. We are busy in our lives, our jobs, our commitments, and we ignore US. You can’t pour out kindness to others if your own cup is empty. Take that bath, book that massage, take a walk with that friend you never see. Whatever it is that makes your soul shine, it is important!
- Let go of clutter. We all have it, in our homes, offices, computers, brains. Consciously simplifying your life will help. Not being weighed down by the responsibility for all of the things in our lives is very freeing. One day I took some time to delete over 5,000 emails that I didn’t need. I can tell you, I walked around grinning all day. There are a million articles out there on “how to.” I am just going to encourage you to pick something, anything really, and START.
- Forgive. Forgive yourself, forgive others. If you cannot figure out how to do this, then get help. A friend, a coach, a psychologist, a counsellor are all great resources to gain the perspective you will need to do this.
- Add some fun into your life. Too often, we take ourselves or each other too seriously. I add hearts and polka dots to my nails. Sometimes my rhinestone earrings are the shape of Mickey Mouse. Even small things like that, or some great music in your car, can put a sparkle in your eye and a spring in your step.
Have a wonderful time taking the time to increase your happiness set point. I will be cheering you on!
Jolie Engelbrecht is a sought-after speaker, facilitator, and life coach who works with individuals and businesses who are ready to let their souls shine brightly. She currently is doing workshops for the Certified Coaches Federation, FISH Philosophy™, and her own workshop EnVision. She loves to see the best in others and brings her “Outrageously Happy” attitude to everything she does. To contact her, www.angelfishconsulting.ca, Twitter: @joliessmiling, FB/Angelfishconsulting, FB/OutrageouslyHappy1. Also, see the Directory of Services ad on page 24 of the 21.6 March/April issue of the WHOLifE Journal.