Think what you want but science has proven that your level of happiness has nothing to do with your income. A study in the 1970s followed lottery winners to discover they were no happier one year after winning than a group of non-winners. “Hedonic adaptation” was the fancy name they came up with to explain their theory. Simply, we all have a default level of happiness. Regardless of circumstances, for the most part we return to our default state of happiness.
In my emotional intelligence workshops I often point out that the world is made up of different kinds of people: optimists, pessimists, worriers, fighters, criers, etc. Happy people to their happiness. Angry people turn to their anger, worriers to their worries, and so on.
So what makes you an optimist, pessimist, worrier, fighter, cryer, etc. in the first place? What determines your default state?
The trick is that you get out of life what you put in to life. If you go into a situation looking for a fight, you’ll likely find one. If you go into a situation looking for a reason to cry, I’m sure you can find one too. If, however, you go into a situation—even a stressful one—looking for the silver lining, you will find silver lining. If you want to be happy… you can be!
Learning to be happy is a challenge. After all, you learned your “default state” over many years. Unlearning your default emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, requires real work. I’d say the first step is awareness.
Be aware of your outlook when you get up in the morning, go into a meeting, sit down to dinner with your family, talk with the police officer that just pulled you over… what are your expectations?
We’re very good at fulfilling our own prophecies.