A Lesson in Happiness

Some scientists think happiness is largely determined by genetics and other factors outside our control. Others say we have a set point of happiness and, no matter whether we win the lottery or have a devastating accident, within a year of the event we return to a familiar emotional level. But recent research suggests that we can actually take charge of our happiness and it is within our power to change.

On my way home from a recent vacation in Northern Spain, I was reflecting on the trip, thinking about when I feel most content. I already knew it was with my family and in my work. But travel can definitely be added to that list: I appreciate the simplicity of living out of one suitcase, unique experiences put a smile on my face, and the memories created are mine to savor forever.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. What follows are ideas you may want to put into practice and see if they boost your sense of well-being:

Embrace simplicity and appreciate what you have. Step outside and enjoy a moonlit night. Or camp with your family and roast marshmallows on the fire. Those who practice writing down three good things that happen to them every week show an increase in happiness. Try to find the silver lining in any situation. Feeling more optimistic and hopeful about circumstances, a process called reframing, can lead to greater peace of mind.

Begin to follow your dreams. If your focus has been on juggling family and work, now may be the time to add yourself to the mix. Begin to look deep inside and rediscover your passion. But don’t expect too much at first because unrealistic expectations can be  disappointing. Take small steps and what comes your way will be a blessing.

If you traveled this summer, what did you appreciate or feel passionate about? Just write below in ‘comments’ – we want to hear from you. And log on Thursday to continue the conversation.

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