The Secret to Happiness

Written by parthaiyengar

July 2, 2013

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”  

― Mahatma Gandhi

What is Happiness?

Happiness is the state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

When I think of Happiness I am reminded of the movie ‘Chalo Dilli’. Lara Dutta portrays the role of a sophisticated rich woman from Mumbai and Vinay Pathak portrays the role of a boorish, go lucky, over confident middle class person from Delhi. One of the oft repeated lines by Vinay Pathak in any situation that they face together is ‘Konse Badi Baat Ho Gi, Ji’! Lara has all the money and life that she wants whereas Vinay has a bedridden wife and very little money. What stands out is the ability of these two characters to cope with situations that life throws at them every minute during their long journey to Delhi.

So what is the secret to Happiness? A pioneering research by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a research psychologist, professor and author of the book,‘ The How of Happiness’ reveals that the Secret to Happiness is contributed by three factors:

  1. Genetics accounts for 50% of our Happiness
  2. Life circumstances and situations accounts for 10% of our Happiness
  3. Power to change accounts for 40%

The scientific evidence confirms what Gandhi had said long ago. That we can increase our happiness by what we think, what we say and what we do. Don’t you think it is amazing that we have the power to be happy?  I mean 40% is in our control!!  Life Circumstances or situations contribute just 10%. Yet, we lay so much emphasis on the 10%. Reminds me of the Asset Allocation Theory which says for better portfolio returns ‘timing’ contributes only 10%. Yet most investors try ‘timing’ the market!  Will reserve another day to write on the ‘Asset Allocation’ principles!

Yes…I do agree that sometimes we do face life situations that do not make us happy. That could only be temporary. I strongly believe that with a positive attitude in life and focusing on what we can control will bring more joy and happiness in our lives on a sustainable basis.

Sonja Lyubormirsky explains further on How to achieve Happiness:

“If we observe genuinely happy people, we shall find that they do not just sit around being contented.  They make things happen.  They pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and control their thoughts and feelings.  In sum, our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above effects of our set points and the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  If an unhappy person wants to experience interest, enthusiasm, contentment, peace, and joy, he or she can make it happen by learning the habits of a happy person.”

Research Credit: Money Quotient

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