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Are You Happy?

Learn the scientific formula to reveal your happiness quotient.

Gina Vild
Source: Gina Vild

"Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Are you happy? Do you wish you were happier?

If so, this yearning is shared by many. A search for “happiness” on Amazon turns up more than 263,000 links.

Astounding, right?

Did you know there is a scientific formula to calculate your happiness quotient (HQ)?

The formula was a revelation made by social scientists Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ken Sheldon, David Schkade, and Martin Seligman, who studied identical twins separated at birth. They created a formula that explains the three factors that determine your level of happiness—biology, living conditions, and voluntary actions.

This study indicates that 50 percent—half!--of your happiness quotient is inherited and considered your set point. Your set point is defined by the state where you balance, where you tend to fall despite the normal ups and downs of life.

Of the remaining 50 percent of your happiness quotient, 10 percent is dependent upon your living conditions and how satisfying they are. Are you worried that you are doomed to a set point far below what you would wish?

Here’s the good news: An astonishing 40 percent of your happiness quotient, as it turns out, is the result of voluntary actions—how you choose to live your life.

Do you do things that make others happy? That is a surefire way to be happier yourself.

Do you do things that make you happier? Do you exercise, listen to music, dance, practice meditation, or have a yoga regimen? Do you volunteer? Do you use your life to make the world a better place?

Making others happier is the fastest track to a happy life. Are you a supportive and compassionate friend? Are you concerned about those with whom you share your life’s journey? If you make choices that put others first, these choices will lead you to a life defined by purpose. The surprising bonus of this behavior is that by reaching out, you in turn enrich your own life.

Using your life as a gift to others will make you happy.

It’s a gift you give that gives back. This may seem counterintuitive, that helping others leads to your own happiness, but there is an abundance of evidence— we’re just passing it on to help make this a kinder, happier world – and to help make you happier.

In addition to engaging in voluntary actions of compassion and service, there is one single practice you can do that will ensure a happier live. The evidence is abundant. you can actually increase your HQ genetic set point through one single practice. You can alter it by the simplest practice of all—by expressing gratitude.

In fact, Robert Emmons conducted a fascinating study. Individuals were assigned to one of three groups. One group wrote down each day for ten weeks five things they were grateful for. The second group wrote down each day for ten weeks five things that displeased them. The third group wrote down each day for ten weeks five neutral events.

Those in the first group felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the future than those in the other two groups. Astoundingly, the group that expressed daily gratitude increased their happiness level by 25 percent. This study further demonstrates that the genetic set point is malleable and dynamic.

Remember when your mother made you write all those thank you notes? Well, you should thank her because she was helping you exercise your gratitude muscle.

Gina Vild
Source: Gina Vild

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