Want to Be Happy? Step Up to the Plate and Hit the Ball

womanathleteHappiness seems to require pursuit after all, according to researchers.

In their article, “Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change” in the Review of General Psychology, Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade define happiness as it’s presented in the rest of well-being literature: frequent positive affect, high life satisfaction, and infrequent negative affect.

They point to three factors that make up our happiness: life circumstances (10%), our set point or genetic makeup (50%) and intentional activity(40%) It’s this intentional activity over which we have control and which leads to sustainable happiness.

This is great news. This puts your level of happiness in your hands.

Intentional activity means choosing to engage in activities rather than waiting for others to get things started or done. To ensure your happiness, be proactive and act on your circumstances rather than blaming your fate on them.

Researchers discovered that it’s not just initiating new activity that’s important, but persevering to finish it as well. And, the activity does not have to be all fun to start. Putting in long study sessions is a short-term inconvenience, for example, for the long-term benefit of completing a degree program.

As humans we can bore of the same activity done over and over in the same way (scientists call this adaptation) and thus lose the “happiness” benefits. We can prevent this by varying the activity, the timing of it, and pausing to appreciate our progress along the way.

As I point out in Chapter 4 of my book, “Color Your Life Happy: Create the Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve,” after thinking positive thoughts, setting goals and visualizing what you want, you must also take action. If stepping out your comfort zone sounds too scary, then widen your comfort zone to include a new activity little by little.

Nothing restricts your happiness as much as contemplating a goal or desire indefinitely, convincing yourself that it’s just not within your reach. There is power in taking that first step.

Step up to the plate and hit the ball. Begin the thing you want to achieve. Look to others for inspiration and motivation, if you wish, but it’s you who must do the work in order for it to positively affect your happiness.

The beneficial activity is not limited to going after your own goals. You can derive equal happiness benefits by doing acts of kindness and showing gratitude for the positive circumstances in your life.

Take note: your ship is not coming in unless you have launched it.

Mr. Rogers was right all along.

You’ve Got to Do It!

You can make believe it happens,
Or pretend that something’s true.
You can wish or hope or contemplate
A thing you’d like to do.
But until you start to do it,
You will never see it through.
‘Cause the make-believe pretending
Just won’t do it for you

You’ve got to do it.
Every little bit
You’ve got to do it, do it, do it, do it
And when you’re through,
You can know who did it,
For you did it, you did it, you did it.