Yesterday I was rushed to hospital by ambulance. For the third time in three weeks. My heart again. As it will happen in various intervals for the rest of my life. But I am happy. And grateful. Grateful, that there is an ambulance that I can call. That there is hospital and great nurses and doctors that will take care of me. Grateful that surgery will be scheduled for next week that will help me and it is all covered from my insurance.
Many things to be grateful and happy for and many things that in my situation could make me very unhappy. What does then makes a difference apart from my always positive attitude? Should I be happy or unhappy in my situation? How much does health that is so much talked about in connection with happiness really influence our happiness level?
I learned a lot and found inspiration in great book from Martin Seligman: Authentic Happiness.
Based on data and research there are external factors that influence our overall happiness level but we tend to over or underestimate their impact on our overall happiness.
External factors influencing our overall happiness:
1. Living in rich democracy not in poor dictatorship (strong influence)
2. Being married (massive influence – but we don’t know if not causal)
3. Avoid negative events and emotions in your life (little influence)
4. Having big social network (massive influence – but we don’t know if not causal)
5. Faith (moderate influence)
6. Making more money (money have small or no influence on your overall happiness from the moment when you can afford to buy this book. Materialistic people are less happy)
7. Health (what is important is subjective feeling not how objectively healthy you are)
8. Highest possible education (zero influence)
9. Change your race, move to warmer country (zero influence)
As you can see most of these external factors influencing your overall happiness are hard to change. Even if you could it would add up to only 15% of overall happiness. The rest is based on internal factors.
People always say, health is most important. Even when we cheer with a drink we say “to your health”. But in fact, it is subjective feeling of your health, not how objectively healthy you are that is having impact on your overall happiness level. That is why I am happy despite my health situation.
To improve your happiness level think about all above. What also helps is a gratitude diary. Simply sit down every evening and write down 3 things you are grateful for. From small things to big things. You will not only become more grateful and happy, but will start to actively look for positive things in your life. This works for me, works for millions of people who do it and I am positive it will work for you as well.
Related posts: The Most Important Question of Your Life; Delayed Gratification; Reflections from Trekking in Nepal