Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happiness Set Point

Happy times--guess this is the 40%.

Have you heard of the Happiness Set Point?

I’ve heard the term “set-point” used with reference to weight many times (so I’ve been on lots diet in my life—don’t judge) but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve heard it used repeatedly when talking about happiness.

The guiding force behind the theory? Happiness is based on temperament. Events like winning the lottery (good) or losing a limb (bad) only affect happiness levels for a few months. Then, we return to our set-point.

This shook me a bit because I always felt that my outlook and certain life events had the power to change my level of happiness.

Take winning the lottery (since that’s the example the study used) for instance. I don’t want to speak for you but I’ve certainly had a fantasy about winning the lottery or coming into some other large sum of money that would take me from a working Jane to private jets and secluded islands. But really, it’s not because I want the money for the status it provides. Rather, it is about having the financial security that will afford me the ability to truly choose my path and live my dreams without worrying about earning and paying bills.

Freedom + Financial Security=Happiness

And there are other events after which I don’t think I could return to a set point (good or bad).

Having a baby.

Losing a family member.

Owning my own business and thriving off of it.

There have been other studies testing the theory. One says genetics make up 50% of happiness. Experience/Intentional Activity makes up 40% and outside circumstances make up 10%.

Before I bore you too much (if I haven’t already), I’ll just say maybe happy should just be about a feeling and not about the science behind it. I guess it is whatever gets me there. If 50% of it is pre-determined, I’m pushing to fill up the rest of my experience and circumstances with as much joy as possible. If the set point is anything like the body during weight loss, it can shift. Here’s to shifting!

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