Getting Happier Is Hard

Let me share the most important thing I have learned so far about happiness.

Getting happier is hard.

I know that might be a little depressing but stay with me for a minute.

The happiness research shows that each person has a baseline.  This is the genetic piece to the happiness equation and accounts for fifty percent of your overall happiness. This baseline varies from person to person, but for an individual does not change much and is a reliable piece of your personality.

Humans, as a species, are also highly adaptable. We have evolved to live on just about every corner of the planet. We have created tools and culture to carry knowledge forward. And contrary to what many of us say and believe, humans are incredibly resilient in recovering from tragedy and pain.

This adaptability has a happiness side-effect: most activities and events do little or nothing to change how happy we are.  There may be a temporary effect but we eventually return back to our happiness baseline.  We adapt to our latest set of circumstances.

Take marriage for example. Partners experience a boost in their overall happiness in the time leading up to the wedding, but within two years, each return to their pre-engagement baseline.

I want to stress that I said most activities do little to make us happier.  To make a real impact, we should careful look at our assumptions about what makes us happy.


I am working on project about happiness, positive psychology, and ways to bring them into your life. You can subscribe for updates here.

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