Have you noticed all the recent hype about happiness? Books, magazine articles, film documentaries, everyone seems very intent on getting happy. I see it in my practice more than ever. Parents want “happy” kids. Spouses want “happy” marriages. I believe this is new for our generation. I don’t think my immigrant grandparents spent much time thinking about being happy. They focused on supporting their family and raising responsible children who would turn into good citizens. I’m not sure that this shift in focus has been an altogether healthy one for families-but that’s a topic for another day! Let’s stick with the search for happiness for now. I have a confession to make. I don’t especially like the word happiness. It seems shallow to me. I prefer its more substantial cousins- joy, peace, contentment. So when I refer to happiness I am referring to the combination of all these feelings and emotions. With all the recent happiness hype comes lots of new research. Some of it is presented in the August 2013 Psychology Today. Let’s take a look at some of those findings.
Did you realize that human beings have an individual natural set point regarding happiness? That is, that although positive experiences can give us a momentary boost, it’s not long before we each swing back toward our natural set point. That set point is probably part genetics and part personality. But your habits and choices can have an effect. Next time we’ll take a look at some of the habits and choices that can have a positive effect on our happiness.
Food for thought: What is your natural set point for happiness? What is the set point of your family members? Do you know people who seem to have a high set point for happiness? What habits do you think they may engage in to keep it there? Good dinner table discussion for tonight!