Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

What Nobody Wants To Accept About Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy. Yet few of us really know how to find it, despite all the carefully researched advice from highly qualified bloggers.

If the next study holds any merit, happiness may be staring you right in the face. 

In 1987, a bunch of social psychologists from Northwestern University looked at paraplegics and lottery winners. After ogling them for a while, they decided to figure out what happened to their happiness six months after their life-changing event.

One group won a boatload of money. The other gained a disability. How did they feel half a year after the incident?

The happiness of both groups was almost identical to what it was a day before the biggest transformative experience of their lives.

Incredible. The results almost seem phony. How could losing the function of your legs not completely obliterate your spirits?

Who knows. Perhaps because your happiness is not tied to your ability to walk, but to who you are as a person.

Equally bewildering is what happened to the lottery winners. 

Even boundless wealth wasn’t enough to make them happier. In fact, many winners felt even less happy because their life of luxury made them less able to enjoy the simple everyday things.

A logical enough premise. But there’s not a chance in hell that I’ll reject hundreds of millions of dollars on the off chance I’ll be a little less happy.

And yet, if you care about your happiness, that’s exactly what this study suggests you should do. 

Money isn’t the answer to your discontent. 

And unless you expressly make it your goal, neither is getting more done, traveling the world, donating to charity, starting a family, having a successful career or finding your soulmate. At least, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky. A professor and scientist at UC Riverside who’s devoted her career to studying happiness.

Only about 10% of your happiness comes from the differences in your life circumstances. Another 50% is determined by your genes. And the final 40% comes from your intentional efforts to be happy.

What a relief. All those huge achievements aren’t that important after all. You’d probably be more than okay without them. 

So what is important? Your intentional efforts to become happy. Focus on that.

P.S. A trait almost all happy people seem to share is that they don’t seem to mind negative thoughts, feelings and events nearly as much as the unhappy people.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach