I once read that the most depressing day of the year is February 7th. This is apparently due to failed New Years Resolutions, the continuing dispair of dreary winter and little daylight, and the upcoming onset of everyone´s favorite holiday, Valentine´s Day. I suppose I buy into it slightly…so in case anyone is extra depressed today, I suppose it´s the perfect time to give some insight on being happy, not only here in Madrid but anywhere.
Today´s post will dig deep into why, in general, we aren´t happy and tomorrow I will explain what we can do to BE happy.
Happiness is a tricky science, in my opinion. According to a study done by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, genes are responsible for 50 percent of happiness. So I suppose that part you can´t mess with. 10 percent is life circumstances (you are beautiful, athletic, or on the other hand born in a poor country in Africa with no food, or are born a parapalegic…). The good news is, the other 40 percent is up to us.
SO what now? We´ve got 40 percent of our happiness to shape however which way we want, but how do we even start? The first thing you must do is examine yourself and your life. Are you happy? When are you most happy? What makes you happy and/ or unhappy? According to a study done at Harvard University, most people don´t even KNOW what makes them happy!
An article from REAL SIMPLE magazine helped me shed some light on this. We, as humans, deal with something called ´hedonic adaptation´. Basically, in normal people talk this means that after the intital rush of happiness, we quickly adapt and then see it as routine or take it for granted, and therefore this item no longer gives us a sense of contentment. Still confused? Let´s talk examples. Your great great auntie Mildred who you´ve never met passes away and leaves you with a sum of money. You promptly go out and by a Mercedes Benz. The car is just what you´ve always wanted and at first you are delighted. But then, after the excitement wears off…it´s just the car you have. You adapt to having this in your life and so therefore it no longer brings happiness. It´s comfortable, but no longer pleasurable. This is usually the same for most material items.
So if THINGS don´t make us happy…what does? According to REAL SIMPLE magazine, the key lies in nonmaterial areas. See below for the three main things you can do to improve your level of happiness.
1. Repeat behaviors that cause happiness
2. Immerse yourself in your activies 100 percent, and live in the moment of what you are focusing on.
3. Do something that serves a larger purpose, or helps others.
Now, how do we manifest these behaviors into our daily lives? Stay tuned for tomorrow´s post and you will see!