Is it possible to be happy?

Of course it is!

I'm not saying that for some people it is impossible to be unhappy as we all have the capacity for both positive and negative moods, but if you want to feel happier in general than you can easily learn how to do it.
Silly as it sounds we have to learn how to be unhappy in the first place, and it may be that you are reading this because you have learnt to be unhappy so well that you can do it without thinking. Just like walking and talking the more you practise something the easier it becomes.
That goes the same for being happy, you have to practise being happy until it becomes natural.
So, what are the magical ingredients that make up a happy attitude?
Firstly, you need to be aware that around 50% of our mood is controlled by our genes, so if you've inherited Uncle George's misery guts gene then almost half of your mood is predetermined and unshakable. It gives us what is called our 'Set Point' of happiness.

This means that no matter how good or bad life can be, we always return back to this set point eventually.
So how do we influence the other 50%?

This is down to 2 things.

Firstly the things that happen in life, such having your legs amputated after a car accident or winning a fortune on the lottery. These will, of course, alter our mood.

Secondly is our behaviour and thought processes, such as listening to your favourite music and being optimistic.

Out of those 2 which of them has the most influence over our general happiness do you think?

The things that happen that we have no control over or our behaviour and thoughts that we do have control over?

By a huge difference, the greater influence to our level of happiness is through our behaviour and thoughts.
Bizarrely, a man whose happiness drops below his set point due to becoming paraplegic after a car accident will return back to his set point in the same amount of time that a man whose happiness goes up due to winning millions on the lottery.

In fact, these circumstances only affect around 10% of our happiness and a whole 40% is down to our own thought processes and behaviour!

Lets look at this a little closer shall we.

Research has shown, time and time again that massive positives such as winning a lottery will only influence our mood for 12 months, after which we just return to exactly how happy we were before we won, crazy eh?

And similarly, massive negatives, such as the death of a child, that would obviously create enormous despair will again only influence us for a year.
All this is under the proviso that our thoughts and our behaviour don't change though.

So if winning the lottery gives us the opportunity to learn how to be happy, then we may never return to our low set point of happiness ever again.
Or if losing our legs in a car accident means all we do is sit and feel sorry for ourselves then we may not return to our high set point of happiness again.

Remember, stuff happening to us only affects 10% of our happiness, by learning how to better control our thoughts and our behaviour we will affect the other 40%
Which is why if our pursuit of happiness is based towards changing our conditions, then we won't ever become permanently happier.

In the same way that a genetically non athletic person can go to the gym and build muscle, it just means having to work harder than the genetically athletic character, someone who has a low set point of happiness can still feel happy it just means having to work harder than the character with a high set point.

Which brings me onto the meat of the meal.

How can we make ourselves happier? NEXT