We all experience good days and bad days and have a mixture of ups and downs – that’s the dance of life. If you’re anything like me, you aim to have more ups than downs. And the good news is, you can. You can reprogram yourself to have more good times and experience higher levels of joy, positivity and ultimately more happiness.
Studies into happiness show that our individual long-term happiness is based on a combination of genetics, life circumstances and our internal state of mind.
In years gone by, researchers (Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M. Sheldon, and David Schkade) developed a Happiness Pie Chart indicating that a whopping 50% of our long term happiness was genetic; coming from our mum, our dad or a mixture of both. Some of us are born with a happy disposition while others are born with a brain wired to focus on the negatives of life.
The second slice of the pie showed that only about 10% of our happiness comes from external circumstances and what’s happening in our life, for example how old we are, our relationships, where we live, what job we have, how much we earn, our health and wellness, what’s happening around us.
And the third segment of the chart indicated that 40% of our long-term happiness is based on us – our internal state of mind, how we think about things, our behaviours, actions and habits. This showed that we have the ability to increase our happiness levels by up to 40% by changing how we think and what we do.
Over the years, researchers have revisited the Happiness Pie Chart, and whilst their findings remain the same that genetics, life circumstances and state of mind all contribute to our long-term happiness, the original percentages are not quite as fixed as they had first proposed.
Whilst we may be born with a certain happiness disposition, life circumstances and the way we respond can all affect our actual levels of happiness.
One thing the researchers agree on is that we can make a difference to the levels of happiness we experience through what we think and what we do.
The average person has between 60,000-70,000 thoughts per day and of those thoughts, 80% are negative. That’s 48,000 negative thoughts from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed.
And did you realise that 95% of the 80% negative thoughts are the same as the thoughts they had the day before.
Most people are not aware of all these thoughts as the majority are stored in their unconscious minds.
The good news is you can retrain and rewire your brain to think more positive thoughts.
One simple and powerful way to do that in less than 2 minutes a day, is to practice gratitude.
Research says that if you write down three different things you are thankful for each day, and repeat this process for 21 days, you will create new neural pathways in your brain.
You will start to notice positive things more often and also increase the number of positive thoughts you are having each day. And when you increase the number of positive thoughts, you will more likely experience your dance of life with more ups than downs.
Grab yourself your favourite journal and start documenting what you’re thankful for – three different things each day for 21 days. It doesn’t matter how big or small, the change happens from doing it every day; you’re creating new habits.
For more information or help with your dance steps of life, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org