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TWINS –ONE BORN HAPPY, ONE BORN SAD

happy woman

When you get out of bed in the morning do you feel happy, or do you feel sad?

I lead a mastermind group and asked that as the lead off question to our group discussion for the meeting. The discussion was on happiness. And I used the occasion to survey 7 business owners for my book on happiness.

If you are not familiar with the concept a mastermind group is similar to a think tank or a business roundtable. I set then up so each member we invite to be part of the group has something in common with the others. In our case all though they are male and female and different ages and backgrounds they are all entrepreneurs. And the focus is to meet for 2 hours every other week and talk about our businesses, ask for help with challenges and the group all offer insights and suggestions.

So back to the question I raised to the group. When you get out of bed in the morning do you feel happy, or do you feel sad? The majority said they felt happy when they woke up. To be fair half woke up feeling nothing the first minute but after their consciousness kicked it they felt happy, as say opposed to sad or angry or any other emotion.

We they proceeded with the survey and I asked each one:

What is happiness to you?

Do you consciously think about happiness during the day?

And, on a scale of 1-10 how important is happiness to you.

Without getting into all the specifics I learned that at least in our group Happiness is thought about consciously during the day and they all feel deeply that happiness is not only important to them but has been important to their well-being and also their success in business and life.

After the survey I shared some important things I have learned and experience about happiness.

First is and I find this quite amazing. Researchers have found that people have a “genetically” based “happiness set point”. That genetic set point accounts for 50% of our happiness. Life circumstances such as age, gender, health, living situation, income, and employment account for 10%. That means 40% of happiness comes from conscious choices and intentional activities we control. Things we do and think about in our daily lives.

All this caused me to realize that researchers have discovered that happiness is both body and emotion. Hence that is how I came up with the title for my new book “The Art & Science of Happiness”

Here is something I found really interesting. As to the 50% genetic component which is mostly, but not totally, outside our control scientific studies have been done on identical twins. And it shows that sometimes one twin will be born generally happy – and the other identical twin-born generally sad. I find that amazing. Same parents, same food flowing into them in the womb, same feelings coming from the mother, yet different feeling born with the child. I personally believe we are both body and soul. That therefore makes me wonder; as souls do we bring our feelings into this world with us?

Sonja Lyubomirsky – The How of Happiness: a scientific approach to getting the life you want. In her studies as an experimental social psychologist at the University of California she conducted the first experiments {called “randomized controlled experimental studies”} that try to increase and maintain people’s happiness. In broadest terms her research suggests that lasting happiness is attainable. It is attainable and under our control for the majority of people.

Studies have shown that about 50% of whether we are generally happy, or have another feeling is genetics like the twins. About 10% is a factor of the environment we grow up in. That means however that 40% is in our control. That says that we can make conscious choices to be happy or sad.

So, unless we are mentally ill, we have the ability to change our thinking, and from that change our feelings. So for that 40% of our mind that we control, how do we create happiness? How and what do we do that will bring happiness into our lives, so when we wake up we feel happy?

To answer that question lets look at another Doctor; psychologist Martin Seligman who teaches that happiness is more derived from what I would summarize as, caring more to the soul than to the body. Happiness is not, as most believe, derived from material, external, momentary pleasures. Simply stated, we don’t derive lasting and true happiness from things, but from doing…and doing them well, and for a purpose. Seligman uses the acronym PERMA, which I also ascribe happiness to. Note, of the five, four are derived of the emotional, and only one is of the body.

  1. Pleasure – A feeling derived from pleasurable food, warm baths, etc.
  2. Engagement – or flow, an engagement in, and the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity.
  3. Relationships – social ties are found by science to be an extremely reliable indicator of happiness and of our physical and emotional health as well.
  4. Meaning – a perceived quest for, or belonging to something bigger than ourselves.
  5. Accomplishments – having realized a purposeful, meaningful goal.

So, as I asked my Mastermind group – When you get out of bed in the morning do you feel happy, or do you feel sad? If you wake up happy you are following something within the acronym PARMA. If most of the time you do not wake up happy and your day is not mostly happy then looks deeper into PARMA and follow this blog on Happiness, and look for my latest book due in December- The Art & Science of Happiness.

 

Carpe Diem

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1 Comment

  1. Sherry says

    Thank you for your thought provoking blog. Happiness comes from the inside not externally.

    Like

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