Happiness and well-being are about embracing positive feelings (comfort, joy, contentment) and positive activities (absorption, engagement, challenges), according to Martin Seligman, founder of the positive psychology movement and author of “Authentic Happiness”.
Current research says that the determination of a person’s level of happiness is 50% genetics, and we can’t do much about that. Ten to twenty per cent is influenced by life circumstances i.e., age, gender, Rx, occupation, income, health, etc. Ever had cold for a week? It’s amazing how quickly you can become undone! The last 30-40% is a product of how you think and act with the things within your control—your internal circumstances. How you view your circumstances, and also how you use choice is what creates enduring happiness, because you determine whether you are at the top of your happiness range or at the bottom.
One of the ways we can increase our happiness quota is by learning to savour and appreciate such basic pleasures as companionship, the natural environment and our bodily needs, and successfully pursuing the positive emotions about the past, present and future.
So there are a couple of things that contribute to this—our sensations and bodily pleasures i.e., taste, smell, warmth, orgasm, etc.
Then there are higher pleasures which are more cognitive in nature and include raw feelings like euphoria, fun and harmony. Increasing our bodily sensations and higher sensations is possible, but does have its pitfalls, because these experiences are fleeting i.e., I enjoy ice-cream because it’s delicious. However, when I start to crave it all the time it becomes a negative experience—ask any person who has a chocolate addiction. It’s an issue people!!
So the first rule of thumb to enhancing pleasure in your life is habituation; that is to inject your life with as many pleasurable events as you can, but spread them out. When I buy a new CD, I play until I can’t stand it anymore and often I can never listen to it again. If I spaced it out I would keep it fresh and enjoy it for much longer, and it would bring me pleasure for much longer.
Take a moment to write down the events that bring pleasure into your life and start to think about how you could be spreading them out to inject your life with happiness.
If you are interested in developing the tools that help to encourage a more contented life, then join us on our Nourish and Flourish Retreat in Bali next year in partnership with Angela McColl from See Change Retreats.