Some studies indicate that each individual has a “happiness set point,” meaning each can reach only a certain level of happiness whether high or low (compared to what I don’t know). If that is true I have a low set point. I’m not usually the life of the party. It doesn’t help to know that those with higher happiness set points have less mental problems, live longer, have better marriages, and lots of friends. For a low set point person that is downright depressing.
Fortunately I have a high “feisty set point.” So I don’t believe for one second that a bunch of researchers can tell me my natural ability to be happy is “set.” I may have a default setting but certainly not a predetermined level of ceiling that I can reach. Besides, happiness is subjective.
There is a trick to learning how to laugh and enjoy even if your default setting is a bit low (by subjective assessment). First, don’t compare yourself to others. Others could simply look happy. They may not actually be happy at all. Second, discover where happiness will likely find it’s way inside you. Then monopolize on it. For example, I have a tendency to be awed by beautiful things. I’ll be walking outside with my husband. He’ll be talking to me and I’ll suddenly become distracted by a sunset or a sparrow’s red tinted head. One time he actually got annoyed and said, “Could you just listen to me for once?” I laughed just now remembering that which brings me to the third way to raise the level of happiness. Remember the last time you were happy or amused and stay with the memory or recreate it!
Of course there are happiness killers, habits that can keep you low. The first is when you say, “I can’t be happy,” for whatever the imagined excuse. If that thought crops up the best response is, “Seriously?” (Get the irony in that answer?) The second killer phrase is “Why am I not happy?” All I can say is, why ask why? Nothing has done more damage to people with low happiness default settings than that stupid why question. The word, why, focuses you inward instead of outward. Outward is where you can solve the problems bringing you down and also where you’ll find happiness. Find your positive tendencies and/or get practical help. Don’t ask why! The third way to insure staying at the default setting or even bring you lower is to bring up the bad in life and linger on those thoughts. Yuck.
Here is a link to some great ideas about how to increase laughter in your life. Rest assured the pessimistic researchers didn’t come up with them. Enjoy your day!
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