In the past two weeks we have looked at the happiness formula defined by positive psychologist Martin Seligman, where H (happiness) = S (your biological set point for feeling happy) + C (the conditions of your life) + V (the voluntary choices you make). Next, we’ll look at the conditions in life that can improve our happiness quotient.
Jonathon Haidt in his excellent book, ‘The Happiness Hypothesis’, notes that research shows that we can never completely adapt to new or chronic noise pollution. Loud noises trigger one of our most primitive fear responses (the other is the fear of falling) and we can never fully relax if we are surrounded by intrusive noise. Noisy neighbours are one of the most emotive causes of domestic upset for a very good reason. It is essential to have some peace and quiet every day. If you are unfortunate enough to live somewhere noisy, persist with complaining to your local council. Additionally, try wearing wax earplugs to give you some respite. If you need your TV, radio or music up loud, wearing headphones demonstrates altruism to your neighbours, which will make you and them feel good.
This is the most important of all the external conditions that can improve your happiness quotient. Often our deepest sources of unhappiness are found in poor relationships with others. A colleague at work who bullies or dismisses us creates untold wretchedness. A cruelly conflictual relationship with a partner or lover leaves us feeling betrayed and abandoned. A relationship with our parents or children which is not based on compassionate, unconditional regard creates isolation and misery. We never fully adapt to hostile relationships, they invidiously contaminate our wellbeing, squatting inside our minds as unresolved, destructive ruminations. When faced with such relationships, the most positive thing we can do is to either mend the relationship by confronting what is going wrong or learn to move on.
If I have discovered conditions or choices in life that have significantly improved my wellbeing, I would like to share them with you. Passing on what works is essential to improve our own and the wellbeing of others.