Have you heard of the ‘happiness formula’ developed by Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology? Did you know that scientific studies have proved the following: be happy now and this will allow you to become successful – and not the other way around? Learn why happiness is a choice.

Why is happiness a choice

Happiness is a choice because you can anytime decide where you focus your attention to. You also have a choice about what is in your ‘circle of concern’ to quote the way Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of highly effective people puts it in his First Habit: Be proactive. The more congruent your circle of influence is with the things you are concerned about and want to change, the bigger are the chances that you will succeed.

According to Martin Seligman’s ‘Happiness Formula’, there are three aspects of what sums up to your personal happiness:

(1) The empirical findings have shown clearly that every person has some sort of baseline mood. This biological heredity appears to be changeable, but relatively little (10-15 %).

(2) Secondly, factors of our environment and circumstances such as income, health, our family and social life have an impact on our well-being, but they are not always easy to influence.

(3) We have however a significant power and flexibility on aspects related to our will, our beliefs, attitudes and habits of thinking, speaking and acting consciously and unconsciously.

Richard Branson Quote


Why is happiness a choice?

Seligman-Authentic-happinessIn his book Authentic Happiness, Seligman explains that there are three things you can always influence:

  1. your satisfaction with the past,
  2. your optimism for the future and
  3. you can create happiness in the present.

And remember: if you want to be successful, you have to be happy first.


How to create happiness in the present?

There are many possibilities:

(1) Treat others the way you want to be treated.

(2) Become aware of which thoughts, words and deeds you are performing habitually that are not contributing to your well-being and happiness.

(3) Words are magic. The words you utter are in between your thoughts and your physical actions. The more conscious you are of our speech the more you can choose what you say which in turn impacts how you feel.

(4) Cultivate positive feelings. Practice thoughts and speech about appreciating beauty, gratitude or kindness. This impacts your well-being in this world in a life-enhancing way.

And sometimes, changing small things can have huge impacts…


Your turn now

Ask yourself: What kind of speech am I having (too) often in a certain context that I would like to change. E.g. criticising your sister’s behaviour when you talk to your mother (observe how you feel when you do something like this the next time).

Or on the contrary: what kind of words would I like to utter more often towards a certain person? E.g. telling your sister how much you care and that you love her (and by the way, this may be partly why you criticised in the first place…).

In the picture above you see things that make me happy: modern art & time for myself, for example, writing while being outside in the sun.

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