Our ability to achieve a state of happiness is greatly influenced by our mindset. For instance, you may have a friend who continually beams and sees the positive, even when things in her life are less than perfect. On the other hand, you may have a friend who has the seemingly “perfect life,” yet complains incessantly about all of the things that are wrong. These outlooks have the power to make or break our ability to be happy.
Deepak Chopra discusses his happiness formula in his book The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment. He states that Happiness = The Brain’s Set-Point (S) + Conditions of Living (C) + Voluntary Actions (V). The Brain’s set point “or outlook” contributes approximately 50% to our happiness. While our voluntary choices contribute around 40% (e.g., choosing to eat well, going to ball games, choosing our friends). Conditions of living, such as our economic status and our marital status only make up 10%. In other words, 90% of our ability to be happy is dependent on how we choose to live and what choices we make along the way.
When trying to cultivate the right attitude, there are three things that can sabotage our efforts:
- Fear: The more energy we spend in avoiding what we fear, the less energy we have to actively pursue what we want. Many of us let our fear of the unknown impair our ability to be positive, to plan for the future, or to achieve the things that will bring us the most happiness. Although fear feels real, it isn’t often based in reality. Fear stems from what we imagine to be, often the worst-case scenario instead of the best, and this propels us into a state of anxiety. The best way to avoid limiting your life as a result of fear is to recognize your personal fears and confront them.
- Getting Stuck in the Past: When we focus on the past, it limits our ability to enjoy what life has to offer in the here and now. Spending all our time worrying about the future, has the same effect. When we live life in the moment, however, we experience more positive thoughts and feelings. We have no control over what happened in the past. What was, was. Let go of those things that you can’t control and avoid feelings of regret. Instead, take your experiences from the past and learn from them. Use those lessons to move on and create a happier, and brighter today and tomorrow.
- Unhealthy Relationships: Surrounding yourself with negative people eventually can have a negative impact on you. Positive people who make you feel good, however, brings better energy into your life. Develop a support network that you can depend on when you need advice or help. If you are surrounded by negative people, minimize the time you spend with them to diminish negativity in your life. You don’t have to cut them out of your life completely, just set clear boundaries and keep them at a healthy distance, even if it’s a friend or relative.
Are any of these three things eating into your happiness? What do you find most consuming?