One of the things I wrote about in the early days of JAA was the then just-launched Action for Happiness movement in the UK . I heard this morning, via Twitter, that Action for Happiness is three years old today.
I hadn’t visited the Action for Happiness website for some time so I clicked on today and my eye was drawn to a pie chart and a sentence underneath it (see both below).
‘Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make.’
The idea that we can influence our happiness levels, by what we do, is not new. The science of positive psychology is a mere babe in arms compared to the venerable discipline of philosophy and classical philosophers often spoke about happiness: one of them, Aristotle, said ‘Happiness depends on ourselves.’
There are certain things I do, even though I don’t do them with the primary aim of improving my mood, that I know impact in a good way on my contentment levels – these thing are:
- Yoga: I try to do, but don’t always succeed in so doing, five or ten minutes practice each day. I find it grounding.
- Meditation: I used to be rubbish at meditation as my thoughts strayed and the hamster wheel in my head kept on spinning. However I recently discovered this video which demonstrated an easy meditation practice: you breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, and hold for four counts – repeat. And so far so very good as this works for me.
- Expressing gratitude: I wrote here about keeping a gratitude diary and its positive effects.
- Walking: especially by the sea, even in the dark! I find it calming.
While I was on Action for Happiness website I looked again at their ten keys for happier living, click here to read the guide. There so much more I could do: for now I think I will try some self-kindness as I am sometimes hard on myself and more importantly I am going to try to improve my kindness levels towards others.
We cannot all be happy all of the time so the Action for Happiness website has a section for those who are weighed down or struggling at the moment, see here.