Tag Archives: Life coaching

Do you know what determines your happiness?

In my talks and workshops, inevitably there is a point when I have to pause while people absorb a particularly surprising fact from the research on happiness. What do people find so shocking?  It’s what determines our happiness. [Hint: it’s not buying new shoes…]

Researchers have shown that:

  • 50% of our happiness is based on our genes.  The random set of genes you received from your biological parents defines your overall range of happiness.  Some of us won the genetic lottery, are blessed with sunny dispositions and naturally see the good in life.  Others of us have a tendency towards pessimism and glass-is-half-empty thinking. Some scientists describe this as a basic happiness “set point.”
  • (Here’s the shocker) Only 10% of our happiness comes from external circumstances.  Your financial resources, your career, the climate where you live, your health, whether you have a life partner, how hot you look – all these things determine just 10% of your ongoing level of happiness.  (Think about how upset this fact makes marketers trying to get us to buy our way into happiness!)  Why?  It’s due to adaptation.  No matter what good things or bad things happen to you – a promotion at work, a new car, getting married to the love of your life — you adapt and after a time (often not very long) it no longer carries much emotional benefit.  Think about the last time you worked hard to accomplish something or bought something you really wanted.  How long did the buzz last? How long before those positive emotions were replaced with the desire for the next thing?  In one well-documented study, researchers found that both lottery winners and people who had become paraplegic returned to their original baseline level of happiness within one year of their life-changing event.  Striving to achieve and acquire, while a fine way to spend your time, is not a path to sustainable increases in happiness.
  • So guess what?  That remaining 40% of our happiness comes from our intentional activity: what we do and how we think.  Forty percent of our happiness is therefore IN OUR CONTROL.  Researchers have been actively testing what activities and thought patterns add to our happiness and which ones reduce it.  Study after study has shown that as people integrate these activities into their lives and make new habits, they sustainably increase their happiness.

This is what excites me most about this work.  This is why I write this newsletter, speak publicly and coach my clients about this material.  Change IS possible.  We can sustainably increase our own happiness and many of these new habits and activities take just a few minutes a day.

In future newsletters, I’ll introduce you to many of these tips and techniques for you to try out in your own life.

Eric Karpinski
The Happiness Coach
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Is there a SCIENCE of Happiness?

“There’s a SCIENCE of Happiness?” is a question I get all the time from people who have always thought of happiness as something based on luck or life circumstance or even Prozac.

For the last century, psychological science has been focused primarily on fixing what was broken — helping depressed or anxious people get to a functional place.  But in 1998, the American Psychological Association expanded the mission of psychological science to also include what makes life worth living.  As a result top psychologists and neuroscientists started rigorous studies in people who are happy, well-balanced and making a positive difference in the world.  They uncovered what habits and ways of looking at life were core to these people's emotional success then systematically tested them in more typical populations.

These scientists have discovered how each of us can increase our level of happiness in an enduring way.  More importantly, the studies have shown that increasing our happiness isn’t just a “frivolous” pursuit that is about “feeling better,” but that living our lives in a more positive emotional state makes us more creative, more resilient, healthier and more successful at everything we do.  Increasing our positive emotions can transform us from a languishing state of “getting by” to truly thriving in our health, careers and relationships.

Through weekly “Happiness Infusion” emails, I share key ideas and tips from this exciting new science with you.  I share powerful conclusions backed by controlled studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.  My goal is to make these fully accessible to those with little scientific training and succinct enough that a two-minute read will get you something thought-provoking or useful in YOUR life.

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