By: Laura Walton AFC®
James Montier, a respected global economist, took a break from the world of finance to look at happiness. He condensed the results of his study of studies into a list of ten ways to improve happiness…
1) Don’t equate happiness with money. People adapt to income shifts relatively quickly, the long lasting benefits are essentially zero.
2) Exercise regularly. Regular exercise is an effective cure for mild depression and anxiety. It also stimulates more energy, and is good for the mind and body.
3) Have sex (preferably with someone you love). Need I say more?
4) Devote time and effort to close relationships. Confiding and discussing problems and issues is good for happiness, so work on these relationships.
5) Pause for reflection, meditate on the good things in life. Focusing on the good aspects of life helps to prevent hedonic adaptation.
6) Seek work that engages your skills, look to enjoy your job. Doing well at work creates happiness, and the easiest way of doing well at work, is doing a job you enjoy.
7) Give your body the sleep it needs. Too many people have a sleep deficit, resulting in fatigue, gloomy moods and lack of concentration.
8) Don’t pursue happiness for its own sake, enjoy the moment. Because people don’t understand what makes them happy, pursuing happiness can be self-defeating. Additionally, if people start to aim for happiness they are doing activities for happiness’s sake rather than actually enjoying the activity itself.
9) Take control of your life, set yourself achievable goals. People are happiest when they achieve their aims, so set yourself goals which stretch you, but are achievable.
10) Remember to follow rules 1-9. Following these guidelines sounds easy, but actually requires willpower and effort.
He went further to say that happiness is comprised of three parts:
50% – your genes – you come into the world with – let’s call it your disposition. Some people are just predisposed to be happier than others.
Just 10% is due to your circumstances in which he includes age, gender, ethnicity, personal history and life status, i.e. money. Yes, money is just a fraction of 10% of your happiness.
And, 40% is due to intentional activity – things you control! Focusing on the aspects of your life that make you happy – knowing what they are and making time for them.
Which leads me to my heading – “Anticipation”.
Dave and I are leaving Friday for what we call our annual pilgrimage to Marble, Colorado – a spectacularly beautiful piece of the Rocky Mountains where we’ll stream fish, back pack, cycle, eat, drink and sleep to our hearts’ content thereby ticking off Montier’s happiness list.
But, that’s likely not even the best part. It’s the anticipation! The looking forward, the planning, the back and forth about hiking trails and fishing spots, even the packing. It’s the intentional activity of making something in your life into more than it is on face value by simply anticipating it with pleasure.
And I credit Dave with teaching me that the simple act of looking forward to things in life, however small, is an important key to everyday happiness. What are you looking forward to today?