Did you know that people are born predisposed to happiness? It’s true. Have you ever noticed how some people are like Eeyore or Tigger in Winnie the Pooh? Studies show that some people are born happy and some have a grumpy outlook from the start. Dutch scientists have discovered that genes in tissues were also found to influence the feeling of wellbeing according to The Daily Mail.
“Once in awhile someone amazing comes along and here I am” – Tigger
You are born happy or not.
Kids health reports that research shows that just a small portion of happiness (only about 10%) depends on a person’s situation. Well, there is a lot of data out there to support the theory that some of us are born happy and others see the negative. But, here’s the good news. You can change your predisposition! Woohoo. Isn’t that awesome?
Ok, Let’s say I tell you I have good news and bad news. Which would you want to hear first? If it’s bad news, then you’re in good company as that is what most people pick. Negativity impacts us more and sticks in our memory more. Hundreds of scientific studies from around the world confirm our negativity bias. Isn’t it interesting how a bad day can carry over into the next day, yet a good day doesn’t seem to have the same lasting effects?
We process negative data faster and more thoroughly than positive data. That’s why it’s so lasting in our memories. It’s one reason scientist says some people are born happy. On a social level, most of us avoid being seen in a negative way and we invest more time and energy in the avoidance rather than building a good reputation. When it comes to a bad mood, we go to greater lengths to avoid it than seeking experiences to create good moods. It’s how humans are wired.
Why are humans wired for negativity?
Well, even though we are no longer living in caves, searching for food, and fending off a saber tooth tiger, our DNA doesn’t know that. That survival instinct that protected us through years of evolution no longer serves us in our current world. Showing no symptoms of mental illness is not necessarily the same as being happy and having a flourishing life adds Claire Haworth of University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology.
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
Did you know that 60 percent of your happiness depends on your DNA and the circumstances life throws at you? The other 40 percent is determined by your thoughts and actions. Great, so as humans we are wired to be negative and see life as a burden to bear or some of us are born happy and see life as a dream to flourish and thrive. So, what can you do about this? How can you shift and make your filter be looking for the good stuff and stop focusing on the bad stuff?
Have you ever noticed how fast you eat? Did you ever finish a plate of food hardly remembering to taste and savor the meal? Sometimes we get into the habit of moving so quickly through life, we forget to enjoy it. Have you ever heard the saying that the joy is in the journey, not the destination? Do you constantly plan for the future or dwell in the past only to miss the present? I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed how impatient humans have become.
I was driving in San Francisco and usually, drivers are pretty courteous in that city, but that day there was this guy, in a convertible sports car, zooming all over the place. He couldn’t stand being behind me and swerved around me and sped off. As I approached the next stoplight, there he was, directly next to me. I couldn’t help myself. I gave him a big smile and 2 thumbs up while mouthing the words “Good Job.” I think he got it and just smiled back at me.
So here’s the thing. Just slow down a bit. Eat your lunch without your face being in front of a screen. Sit in the sun or take a walk. Take time to look up and connect with this amazing planet we all live on. Appreciate the small stuff and feel gratitude. That will bring a smile to your face.
Find an exercise you enjoy.
Yes, exercise is amazing, but some people really dread it. It not only gets your butt into shape, but it’s also the best way to keep your brain young and healthy. So, you need to find something that moves your soul and your body. If you don’t want to go to the gym, how about finding a walking buddy? What did you love to do as a kid? I loved riding my bike. I rode my bike all through my 20’s when I live in Philly, but once I moved to extremely hilly San Francisco, I gave it up. Now, in my 50’s I’ve discovered spin classes that I love.
I know it’s hard to make time to work out, but as I tell all of my patients, you will find the time to do all the things that are most important to you. After my baby was born, I found ways to work out at home or classes where I could take him along in the jogger. I needed to get creative to carve out the time, but I did it because it was important to me.
Do you like dancing? Try a Zumba class. Are you into sports? Find a local league and get involved. If you buddy up with a friend, it’s even easier to show up because you know someone is counting on you. When you find an exercise that you really enjoy, it’s a lot easier to commit to a healthy lifestyle, and the benefits are endless.
Set and achieve small, reachable goals.
If you’ve listened to any of my previous shows you know I always tell you to make small changes, as it’s those baby steps that, over time, add up to big changes. When you can accomplish something, even if it’s small, you feel proud. This can set off a chain of other feelings such as confident, optimistic, and even HAPPINESS!
Set small, doable goals for yourself and make a specific plan to achieve them. Make them things that you can do in the short term, not over the course of weeks or months. You can cook more healthy meals, starting with just 1 per week. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier per night per week if you want to get more sleep. If you want to work out in the mornings, put on your gym clothes first thing in the morning. These might not seem like the biggest achievements, but accomplishing something (no matter how big or small) offers an instant brain boost.
Prove to yourself that you’re capable. The more often you do it, the better you’ll feel in the long run. Sure, there will always be good days and bad days. It may well be true that some people are born happy or not. Sometimes life is just a pain in the butt. But, now, you know you can make each day better than the one before. Start with these 3 tactics and start living a happier, healthier life.