Did you know that there is a World Happiness Report? Every year, since 2012, the United Nations measures the quality of life for citizens around the world through surveys and data analysis and produces a list of the happiest countries ranked from 1 – 156. Is the UK number 1? No that is Denmark, the UK currently comes in at 23 and to be honest that doesn’t surprise me in many ways.
In my 1 to 1 coaching work I often find people have a goal to be become happier, maybe when they get the next job, lose a stone, earn another £10k, get a bigger house, new car – whatever is their thing but it’s got me to wondering if that keeps pushing being happy over the horizon and what happens when you get there? In my experience, it just moves to the next thing and so on. So, wouldn’t it be better to just be happy now, with what we have? That’s not to say it’s not good to have goals and want to achieve things but maybe it’s important to be thankful for what we already have….
With that in mind, did you know that there is a happiness formula? Dr Seligman, a positive psychologist, has come up with this:
H = S + C + V
H = Happiness
S = Set of genetics – so the bit you’re born with
C = Conditions of living – where you are and what’s going on in your life
V = Variable factors – the bit you have choice and control over.
He’s even been able to attach some percentages to the different aspects with genetics being accountable for 50% of our level of happiness, conditions of living affecting 10% and the variable factors at 40%. So, in effect, our choices and actions, every day, can affect 40% of our overall happiness – brilliant!
But what might those variable factors include?
Well, here are three for starters:
Not just for the big things in life but noticing and appreciating the small, everyday things that we might take for granted. For example, a really decent cup of tea. Now, we all have our preferences on how to make it, I personally like it strong with only a tiny amount of milk. However, I have friends who, when they’re visiting, I joke about having to milk the cow as there’s more milk than tea in their cup!
Taking a step back, think about everything involved in the process to make that cup of tea:
Get a cup from the cupboard – someone’s designed and made that cup and cupboard to keep it safe and clean.
Take the kettle and fill it with clean water which comes directly into your house and is controlled by a simple tap.
Turn the kettle on using the electricity which conveniently comes into your house right to the plug socket. Amazingly the kettle then knows when the water is ready and turns itself off.
Taking a tea bag of choice, which has been carefully picked, packaged and transported to a store, pop it in the cup, add some hot water and perhaps some milk and sugar, not forgetting their journey to your fridge or cupboard ….
All of a sudden that simple cup of tea is transformed into a feat of ingenuity, creativity, development and definitely something to be grateful for – maybe something to think about when you next make yourself a hot drink and maybe even notice if it tastes a little different to before….
2. Random act of kindness.
Do something for someone else, not for any other purpose other than because you can. Whether that be for someone you know, someone you pass on your way to work or a complete stranger in another situation you find yourself.
3. Self care.
Do something for yourself to fill up the bank of “you”. What do you enjoy doing? Is it bottom of the list after you’ve tackled the never-ending, magically re-filling laundry basket or the 23-page to-do list? How would it be to put yourself at the top of the list now and then? It doesn’t have to take long, it could be a walk around the block at lunch time, a good book, gardening, catch up with friends, whatever works for you. Even just one minute spent focusing on nothing else other than your breathing can give you that bit of head space you deserve. Try it – a minute can seem quite long!
That’s just three things ideas, what choices and actions will you take to increase your happiness?