If increasing your happiness is a goal for 2014, you may want to consider the four factors that contribute to internal well-being. Those pivotal factors are genes, values and events, reports Arthur C. Brooks in an opinion piece for the New York Times.
For the piece, Brooks draws on research studies done by social scientists at the University of Chicago and the University of Minnesota that attempted to determine common factors that influence happiness.
Our genes play a pivotal role in whether or not we consider ourselves happy, he shares.
A University of Minnesota study found that inherited happiness accounts for nearly half (48 percent) of our experience. The other 52 percent is divvied up between the events that make up our individual lives and our values. For example, win a plum gig at your dream job and expect to experience a happiness rush. Ditto if you meet the love of your life, or achieve a long-held goal. These bouts of bliss are highly influential — they account for 40 percent of your personal happiness. But sadly, they’re fleeting. Once the dust settles, you’ll probably settle back into your baseline state of mind — the one you inherited.
If you’re seeking a more stable and consistent source of contentment, though, look to establishing a firm set of values, suggests Brooks who adds that they account for 12 percent of personal happiness, “It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage is genetic and not under our control in any way.”
While Brooks leaves the discussion about faith, family and community and goes on to beat the drum for the glories of free enterprise, his scholarship on the topic of happiness may offer a source of inspiration going into the new year.
Contribute to your 12 percent by going back to school, by pursuing a professional path that speaks to you, by investing in your social environment, or establishing your vision of an ethical life. Finally, make a pact to spend more time with loved ones. Pursuing any one of those aims, if not all of them in the new year, will go a long way toward boosting your happiness quota.