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Martin Seligman, the father of "positive psychology," has found that about 60% of happiness is determined by genetic factors (what we inherited from our family and the unique temperament with which we came into the world) as well as by our environment. The rest is in our hands.
- Happy people like themselves.
They are satisfied and appreciative of who they are as individuals. There’s always room for improvement, but generally, they know and like who they are. They are confident, optimistic, resilient, and adaptable. They can see humor even in things that don’t seem funny on the surface.
- They are self-reliant.
They look within themselves to find answers and solutions. They don’t see themselves as victims. Many notables have written about the true self vs. the false self, the idealized self vs. the realized self, etc. In other words, happy people have learned what is most important to them, what is true for them, and what things are non-negotiable, as opposed to allowing others to dictate and impose their beliefs upon them.
- Their relationships are not about “you complete me."
Happy people are complete within themselves, having done the required work on themselves to know who they are. They view relationships as an extension to, not the basis of the human experience. It is not about “what can you do for me” but rather, the sense that essential relationships are unconditional.
- Happy people live in the moment.
Yet they embrace change and trust that everything happens for a reason.
- They practice gratitude, being grateful for even the small things.
They appreciate the simple pleasures. They appreciate everything that happens to them; it’s all an experience, an adventure, an opportunity.
- They try to be happy.
In other words, they actually make an effort to be happy. They hang out with positive people. All things being equal, they tend to look on the brighter side of life. They attempt to find solutions and answers that are as close to satisfactory even if it is not the ultimate desired solution.
- They take care of themselves.
They exercise to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. They know how to unplug, distancing themselves from the stresses of life. Many happy people have a spiritual practice, whether it’s taking a walk in nature or meditating.
- Interpersonal connection is of vital importance.
They listen to others and are genuinely interested in what others think, feel, and do—and they engage people in what is important to them. They don’t compare themselves to others and don’t hold a grudge. They are kind to everyone and often give back to others in whatever way they can.
- Happy people control their own life and destiny.
They pursue their passion. They don’t let a bad situation defeat them; when something bad happens they choose to see it as a challenge and then try harder. They don’t sweat the small stuff. They accept what happens in life, especially what can’t be changed—and then they move on.
Happiness is not a constant state of bliss that is ultimately attained but rather a way of being that needs to be cultivated and nurtured, practiced and maintained.
Link: Your Tango