What causes happiness? While researchers aren’t 100 percent certain, they do think that over half of an individual’s “happiness quotient” is genetic — determined before the individual is even born. That’s part of a person’s temperament, and may be why happiness seems to run in families, and why the opposite is true as well.
Like other things that are genetic, such as the color of your eyes, skin, or size of your nose, there may be nothing you can do about what you were given, but you can make the most of what you have. Such is the case with happiness — although 60 percent is pre-determined, 40 percent is not, meaning that it can be manipulated based on ways of thinking, habits, and cognitive exercises. Hypothetically, even a naturally somber person can obtain a decent level of everyday happiness, experts say, by re-training the way they think and the things they do.
According to PsychCentral, even envying the fact that someone is born happier than you can decrease your own happiness quotient. Part of the 40 percent that is determined by the individual is determined by how they think about things and what they do as a result, psychiatric experts say. What we experience in childhood may influence how we think about things. Those who had a childhood filled with security and unconditional love often have little trouble bouncing back from negative events, but those who didn’t have that safety net, conditional love, or other parental instabilities may experience a much more difficult time keeping things in perspective. There are three major “happiness zappers” experts say, and the way you handle events that cause them may determine your happiness or lack thereof.
While it is true that overly-anxious, alert, and sensitive people are better at reading other people, they are also prone to “catastrophic” thinking, which is a major energy and happiness zapper. They tend to think of the worst thing that could happen and believe it is about to be so, instead of living in the present moment. They are always ready to suffer a loss, real or imagined. One overly sensitive person described to psychologists about how it kills her happiness.
“I am always quick to jump to conclusions and I keep losing friends because of it. I take everything to heart so when someone doesn’t call me as she promised, my head doesn’t think things like ‘she got busy’ or ‘maybe she forgot.’ No, I end up writing a whole script about how she’s not really my friend or she’s using me or something. And then when I do talk to her, it’s my script I am answering, not her words. I keep working on this in therapy but it’s a lifelong habit.”
That’s why, experts say, it is important to stop that type of thinking early in life, before it becomes habitual. Another happiness killer? Those who are criticism-wary. If someone is highly criticized in their youth, it’s easy to see every suggestion or comment as a criticism as that makes an individual feel marginalized and unhappy because they feel inferior. The solution, experts say, is to take every comment or suggestion at face-value and not assume that people are criticizing one’s entire being.
Researchers agree that everyone does not start out on the same playing field with happiness, but that cognitive re-wiring is possible at any age, meaning it is possible to become a happier person by consciously changing thought and action patterns.
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