Genetics Aside, 40 Percent Of Your Happiness Relies On You To Make It Happen

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down happy. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. – John Lennon

Why are we constantly looking for what could be wrong or questioning what seems too good to be true? Why can’t we simply allow ourselves to be happy? Are you the person always waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Recently during dinner, I asked one of my friends how everything was going in her new relationship. She commented, “He’s just so damn happy… like all of the time.”

We all immediately started to laugh, as if we had some unspoken understanding that there must be something wrong with him. Later that night, I asked myself, what’s wrong with being happy?

Perhaps being a New Yorker has jaded me, or I’ve experienced and witnessed more failed than successful relationships. Or, is it simply the norm to question when something seems too good to be true?

Happiness is a compilation of our genes, where 50 percent of it comes from (keep in mind this is only our starting point), our life circumstances (10 percent) and our intentional activity (40 percent, i.e. how we allow our life circumstances to affect us).

Translation: You are responsible for 40 percent of your own happiness.

Here are five obstacles that may be blocking your road to happiness:

1. You view problems and stressors as unpredictable and uncontrollable. Let’s face it: Stress is unavoidable. The key to handling it is being able to differentiate between what can and what cannot be controlled.

2. You have a tendency to ruminate about the negative. Excessive thinking about negative past experiences will go a long way in convincing you that you have reasons to be upset or unhappy. If it’s in the past, you can’t change it; move on and allow your mind to reset (I know, it's easier said than done).

3. You compare yourself to others. Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it so difficult to accept our own baggage, as well as that of others?

4. Your mind automatically gravitates towards the negative versus the positive. We become acclimated to thinking a certain way; train yourself to not immediately look for the bad or negative in a situation or person.

5. You forget, or choose to not remember, the positive experiences, or take them for granted. Why is it so much more difficult to remember the good versus the not so good?

It is hard to believe that research deems 95 percent of our actions and thoughts as unconscious. I, for one, would like more control. Luckily, you can intervene, control and even regulate your habits and thoughts.

Turn a, “He’s just so damn happy… like all of the time” into a, “Maybe he’s just a good guy who enjoys life and being with me.”

By now you have probably heard Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy” at least a few hundred times. But, have you ever stopped to contemplate, “If you know what happiness is to you”?

Happiness is not a simple choice; it's the result of the hundreds of choices we make every day. We choose what to retain, what to ignore and what we let go. The choice is yours.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It