How to Increase Your Happiness

June 10, 2014

by Dan Solin

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This is the third in a series of articles about the relationship between success and happiness. You can find the first two here and here.

Successful people are not necessarily happier, but happier people are more likely to be successful.

Many people are unhappy in both their personal lives and their work. If you are an investment advisor always striving for the elusive and ever-changing goal of acquiring more assets under management, I recommend instead focusing on how to increase your level of happiness.

You control your happiness

Do you have the power to increase your happiness? Experts say yes. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a social psychologist and author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, believes that people are born with “genetic set points” that determines 50% of their happiness levels. An additional 10% of happiness is imposed by circumstances like health, economic status and marital status.

The good news is you are in control of the other 40%.

You can make a large contribution to your own happiness. Here are some suggestions for doing so.

Prioritize happiness

According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, happiness is a choice within your power to make. He believes the brain scans for positive or negative meanings in the input it receives. The problem arises when your brain is programmed (by you) to scan first for the negative.

Achor believes you can train your brain to scan first for the positive. He suggests some simple practices to retrain your brain. One is to exercise for at least 10 minutes every day. Another is to meditate, which I will discuss in a future article. Achor also recommends writing down every day things that make you happy, things for which you are grateful or one positive experience you had in the past 24 hours.

Make emotional connections

Emotional connections are an essential component of your level of happiness. There is ample evidence that we are happier when we are with other people than when we are alone.

We have social interactions every day. We serve the needs of others and they serve ours. As you go through your day, try to make as many emotional connections as you can.

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