Mainstream thought has traditionally believed that happiness is hardwired. Consequently, throughout one’s life whether gaining a job or losing one, getting married or divorced, there are those who will view these circumstances more optimistically while others will take a more glass half empty view. This is known as your happiness set point. This perspective may appear to work well for those who land in the glass half full category but what about the glass half empties? Can they change their happiness set point? Are they destined to always see the less than optimal side of things?
Neural Plasticity Leads to Happiness
Recent breakthroughs in neural plasticity reverse the long standing certainty in a happiness set point. Consequently, your levels of happiness and optimism are not based solely on your genes. Happiness is a muscle you can develop with practice and conditioning in fundamental areas of life. Comparing happiness levels to muscle development is a paradigm shift for many people. If you want to learn a new language, improve your tennis serve or build bigger biceps it is universally accepted that you have to practice these new skills. Emotional well-being training however is one area that seems to have been left out of this universal understanding. The primary factor in raising your happiness level is taking action through daily training and conditioning of specific characteristics.
Happiness is More Than an Emotion
What are the specific areas of training that have been shown to increase happiness levels? Something important to consider is that happiness is not just an emotion. People who are happy have identifiable life characteristics that lead to seeing the glass half full. On this level, happiness is more of an effect or a result of identifiable elements. These characteristics are aspects of life and personal development that anyone can develop with focus, practice and conditioning. Here are the top four life characteristics that lead to happiness.
1. Purpose in life
2. Self acceptance
3. Strong social relationships
Coaching and Counseling
Hilary Stokes Ph.D. and Kim Ward Ph.D. have been a team for 20 years, specializing in mind, body, spirit psychology. They are the authors of the bestselling books The Happy Map: Your roadmap to the habit of happiness and Manifesting Mindset: The 6-step formula for attracting your goals and dreams and founders of Authenticity Associates Coaching and Counseling. They are passionate about combining the best of holistic and traditional approaches to health and happiness. If you are interested in learning the answers to the most frequently asked questions on how to decrease stress and increase happiness sign up for their free video series.