How Happiness Works

How Happiness Works
Few people are happy. Most of the people I know are neutral or unhappy, and most of the people I meet sure don’t look happy! Happy people really stand out, partly because they’re so rare.

Since hardly anybody does it, it’s easy to assume that being happy is complicated, or there’s some secret you have to know, or maybe you have to be born with a certain gene.  While people are born with an innate level of happiness or happiness set point, and circumstances also influence how happy you are, you still have the power to make yourself happier. Surprisingly, 50% of our happiness levels come from genetics, and only 10% from circumstances, leaving 40% that we can control.

Why are so many people unhappy? It’s actually pretty simple. The thing that keeps most people from being happy is fear.

Think about it for a minute. Look over your life and what feels bad in it.

Do you get the blues every Sunday night because you’ll have to go to work Monday morning? That’s probably because you’re afraid you’ll have to do a lot of stuff you don’t like, or a lot of stuff you’re afraid you can’t do, or both. Maybe there are also unpleasant people at work and you’re afraid you’ll have a run-in with them.  

When you sit down to do the bills, do you get a heavy knot of dread in the pit of your stomach? Chances are, you’re afraid you don’t have enough money to pay for everything. When someone cuts you off in traffic, do you blow your top? Well, who wouldn’t - they could have killed someone! That’s fear too - you’re angry because they put you in danger.

Most unpleasant feelings boil down to fear. If you’re stressed about work or money, your relationships, what people think of you, or all the things you have to do, it all comes down to fear. This is important: fear is the enemy of happiness.