“If you are not happy here and now, you never will be.” ~Taisen Deshimaru
Happiness has less to do with our life circumstances than I ever imagined. According to researcher and author Sonja Lyubormirsky, our quotient for happiness is based 50% of our genetics, which is to say the complex brain and neural circuitry that we inherit from our parents and that create emotional set points for us all.
In my case, the more work I do on my capacity for happiness, the more I encounter the low set point that I am working with. Mostly I feel like I have finally integrated the truth that happiness is an inside job but there remain stubborn vestiges in old myths where I sometimes find myself believing that if only I could find the right help for Good Clean Love, I would be happy.
I should know better than to believe in this erroneous idea that is deeply woven into all of the billions of dollars of advertising messages swirling around us. We collectively all somewhere hold the idea that our happiness is out there somewhere waiting to be discovered. We are all waiting for something different, but we all somehow believe that it is out there. Whether we anticipate this through the perfect job, the right mate, the beautiful home or fast car, we believe that we will find our happiness wrapped inside of the goals and lifestyle we are building. In fact, oftentimes our attachment and preoccupation with material wealth is a primary barrier to experiencing happiness.
Deriving our ability to be happy through our stuff or even our ideas of where we should be often does nothing but create a life driven by stress. Continuously distracted from the present moment, unable to feel the flow of life around us, we dive head first into ruminating ‘ which is a thinking style that imprisons us. Money issues often look like this, where we can’t get our minds off the topic. Over-thinking our situation and comparing ourselves to others becomes our default mode of thinking; we are like the proverbial hamster on a wheel unable to perceive the good we are living. This is where I get lost when all I can see about my business is how close we are to our monthly sales goals.
It may be hard to believe, but dozens of studies have shown that our life circumstances- everything from how much money we have, how beautiful we are, our age, where we live only impact our capacity for happiness by a measly ten percent. The real mechanism that most weighted people’s capacity for sustained happiness was intentional activities. So I was both surprised and heartened to learn that it was in my control to choose ways of thinking that would allow me to be happy regardless of what is happening in my world.
I know this of course, after close to 18 months of study. But still my lagging sales goals or my desire to solve a problem that I can’t quite see still can kick me right out of my routines that sustain my sense of self and the goodness that surrounds me.
Don’t miss my interview with Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of The How of Happiness to listen to more of what I learned. Thanks Sonja.