I’m employed at an agency that thankfully believes in the continuing education of its professionals. Albeit I’ll admit that this sometimes can be drudgery. Who wants to sit three hours through a social services training when you work in the accounting department?
But every now and then there is a training that comes along that is so informative and insightful that everybody walks away – dare I use the word – inspired. For instance, the last training I attended was called, HAPPY. It was executive produced by Tom Shadyac (director of Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, and The Nutty Professor). Mr. Shadyac had a traumatic bike accident in 2007 that made him reassess the way he prioritized his life. It made him really think about what he needed to be happy. Having given much of his fortune away, he decided that he needed to simplify his life. Afterwards, he felt his happiness increased, so much so, he executive produced the documentary mentioned above.
In it, several people from different countries, lifestyles, and backgrounds described what brought them happiness. An Indian family was happy because even though they were very poor, they had what they needed to survive and each other. A single mom living in Europe expressed happiness because she lived in a loving community with her children. And an American lady – now facially disfigured – explained why she was so happy, even after many painful surgeries and her husband left her.
These people, despite their circumstances, were happy. Part of the reason may be because biologically, some people are prone to be happier than others; just like some people are prone to be sadder than others. Based on scientific studies, 50% of your happiness is because you are biologically wired one way or the other. It was also interesting that only 10% depended on things like your environment (money or other material things). But the most important point that I took from this seminar is that a whopping 40% of your happiness comes from deliberate choices you make.
I had to let that sink in. So even if you are a person that has a tendency to be sad or if you struggle with depressions, 40% of your happiness is controlled by you! Even if your husband left you because your face is disfigured, as in the case of the American lady mentioned above, 40% of your happiness depends on you. Even if you live two steps above abject poverty, as in the case of the Indian family mentioned above, 40% of your happiness depends on you. It boils down to attitude – toward problems, life, people, family, and the like. It boils down to what you will allow to take your happiness away and what steps you will take to maintain it.
I read this phrase from Gabrielle Bernstein that sums it up this way: “I’m working my happiness like a full-time job.”