The One Question We All Need to Know the Answer To…
One of my top perks in life is being able to tutor a young Swiss chap, Joris, in English. In one of our mid-week sessions we were throwing around a few hypothetical scenarios by way of a conversation stimulus. If you’ve ever taught languages before, you know that flexing this craft requires lots of hypothetical and head-scratching topics that range from radical extremism, your ideal baguette filling, proportional representation, or most likely, the 10 things you absolutely must have in your pencil case.
As we were spitballing chats, Joris surprise served with the question ‘Are you Happy?’. Before I could think about what I was saying, my lips had already formed ‘No’. Cue two surprised faces and an the most awkward silence imaginable.
What Makes Us Happy?
When you think about what is to be happy, one (by which I 100% mean me) can tend to think of women stood hands aloft in fields of barley, office workers banter-creased with laughter at the office cooler or Pharrell Williams bopping about a parking lot. But what actually gets us to that point? Are some people just more perky than others? Does it depend on who is raking in the dollars?
There is a super interesting documentary on Netflix at the minute called, suprisingly, ‘Happy’. If you haven’t seen it, I’d really recommend it, as looks a person’s predisposition to happiness.. One of the many things I took away from this movie can be captured in the below screen-shot.
The University of Illinois research behind this pie-chart shows us is that 50% of our happiness is defined by a genetic set point. I.e. we each have a certain range that we work within when it comes to how positive we are. Some people make always seem that little bit more perky or more morose, that’s in their wiring. It gets even more interesting though when you take a peek at the red section which represents your circumstances – this is to say how much you earn, your place in society, the neighbourhood you live in or generally the cards you have been dealt with in life only account for 10% of your happiness.
Here is the real Eureka moment though – 40% of your potential to be positive in life, a hefty wedge by anyone’s maths, is dictated by your intentional activity or otherwise put, your choices make you happy!
What are you Choosing?
The Documentary goes on to list a number of things we have the power to choose that will positively affect our well being:
Physical Exercise – Even starting somewhere small with a casual stroll at lunch can get your dopamine pumping round the body from the brain’s pleasure centre.
Variety – Choosing to try different experiences every day, week and month keeps you stimulated. Date Night with your loved one always benefits from a pinch of spice.
Flow – Choosing to be present in any given moment. In the world of constant notifications and numbing distractions, the choice to engage in any given moment fully fosters a real sense of empowerment
Gratitude – Irrespective of how hard life is if you can focus on just 3-5 things a day you are grateful for it shifts your perspective. What you pay attention to, grows, after all.
Community – Who are you surrounding yourself with? The reason that there are so many centenarians in Okinawa, Japan, is because the community spirit is titanium strong. Who are you surrounding your self with?
The Power of Self Agency – Knowing that you really do have the freedom to take control of your life
What About You, Boo?
My little chat with Joris did leave me quite confronted with that which was clearly my sub-conscious telling me there were choices that need to be madeto shift the happy balance in my life – many centred around those above listed points.
I have some important choices to make but what about you?
This isn’t me saying choose to pretend that there are no weeds in the garden when there blatantly are, choose to pretend there is no money in your bank when you know you’re in the red BUT I am saying we can all choose to make a change.
What one thing could you choose today to make your self happy? Why wait?