10 Ways to Increase Your Happiness Set Point

by Feb 4, 2016Happy Time4 comments

The Happiness Set Point

A few years ago I completed a Master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology. In short, the study of happiness.

One of the most startling revelations for me was that we are all equipped with a happiness ‘set point’. This means that we have a stationary amount of happiness throughout our lives. This is known as the hedonic treadmill. As long as the circumstances in your life are fairly constant and continuous, you’ll resort back to this set point.

How often do we hear of people who say‘I will be happy when…. I get a new car/ job/ house/ partner?’ The truth is they will be happy for some time and then they will resort back to their stationary level of happiness. Think about it, we’ve all been in situations where we said we would be happier once we did or obtained something, only to find that ‘wherever we go, we take ourselves with us…’ and we fell back into our standard level of happiness.

Research says that no matter what life throws at you – good or bad – and as long as the change is continual, that within 3-9 months you will fall back into your set point level of happiness.

Would it be useful to know how this set point it determined? Here you go.

Research says your happiness set point is primarily inherited – it’s literally in your genes and in personality traits are ingrained in us at an early age.

Now pay attention, this may be the most important thing you read today. I am going to tell you the proportion of the set point that comes with your genes and early experiences… ready?

  • 50% of the set point is inherited and early ingrained personality traits.
  • 10% of the set point is circumstantial (job, house, relationship) you know, all those things we say we’ll be happier about once we get have them.
  • So if you are good with figures you’ll now know that we are left with 40%.

This is important – 40% of your happiness is within your control!

It is based on the little things you do every day to give you the slight edge and increase your level of happiness.

So now, I am going to share a little of the little things that mean a lot. Your job it to decide which of these you are going to embrace if you haven’t already and put into practice. Choose one, do it every day for at least 3 weeks, or choose a few, whatever suits you. The important thing is to actually put it into practice. You’ll not get results from reading and thinking about it. You gotta take action!

So here are the simple ways you can increase your set point of happiness:

Remember, 40% of your happiness is at stake here!

1. Practice gratitude daily

Before bed or first thing in the morning, write down three things you are really grateful for. Start with little things, you’ll be amazed when you take a moment to reflect in a sincere and appreciative way how quickly you find other things to be grateful for.

2. Exercise your body daily

We were born to move find something you enjoy and get moving. It’s never too late and there is always something for all abilities and ages.

3. You are what you eat

These days you need a degree to read food labels. Let’s make it simple. Stick to foods that don’t have an ingredients label. In other words, food in as natural a state as possible. East well, your body will thank you.

4. Get out in nature

Just like good food has a restorative effect on your body, getting out in nature has a restorative effect on your mental well being. 15-20 min will do nicely.

5. Carry out random act of kindness

Send the thank you letter/email/text or phone call that is overdue. Treat a pensioner to lunch, volunteer at a local charity. In fact, 100 hours a year – 2 hours a week is the magic number for increased happiness through volunteering.

6. Find meaning in your work

There is an age old story about someone asking the cleaner at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) what he was doing there. He replied ‘putting a man on the moon’. Whatever level you are at in your work, make it meaningful. If you can’t find meaning, find a new job.

7. Spend more time with people you love

Avoid those who are energy vampires and suck the happiness right out of you! Hopefully the energy vampires are not those people you love. If they are, you need to protect your energy from being contaminated with their negativity.

8. Change your physiology

Right now – go on – wherever you are, pull your tummy in, throw your shoulders back, head held high and smile. You can’t possibly feel bad in that position.

9. Work to your own strengths

We all have different gifts and abilities, we can’t all do everything well. Focus on what you do well and allow yourself to shine. The greatest gift you can give to the world is to live into your strengths and best qualities. If you are not sure where you shine, ask a trusted friend who loves you. You’ll soon find out. Get familiar with Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Do the online assessment for further validation of your awesomeness.

10. Listen to music you love

Put it on, turn it up.

So now you have a list of 10 ways to increase your happiness…. What are you going to do?

Make a commitment to yourself and feel free to tell me in the comments below what you’ve decide to do as this gift to yourself.


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