I am going to ask you one very simple question. Please try to answer right away and without thinking… call out your answer out loud and to the best of your ability.
ARE YOU HAPPY?
How did you do? Was it hard? If you found it hard to answer immediately, then I think that I know what the problem is. Don’t worry – you are not alone…
In a study into Social Judgement, Strack, Martin, & Schwarz, found that the state of our mind just before we were asked the question ‘are you happy?‘ had a considerable effect upon our judgement.
A group of college students were asked 2 questions:
a) How happy are you?
b) How often were you dating?
When the questions were asked in that particular order the answers given were statistically very even.
Based on this, it was seen that a students dating life had very little, if anything to do with how satisfied they were with life.
That was up until the question order was reversed. The new data showed that when asked about their dating frequency first, that there was a very real correlation between how happy a student was and the number of dates which they had been on. When a student recalled a very low dating frequency and was then asked the question “How happy are you?”, a resoundingly negative response came back. They appeared to be unhappy.
A series of these studies were conducted in a similar manner and each time the data proved that our immediate state of mind had a great deal of impact on how negative or positive we felt about our happiness.
The Appreciation We Have for Many Other Aspects of our Lives are Affected by our Immediate Circumstances…
What this means to us is that the appreciation we have for many other aspects of our lives are somewhat affected by our immediate circumstances, and whether we perceive them in a negative or positive light. So this is truly food for thought for us all. Yet; we cannot rely upon feeling positive and grateful alone to help change our perspectives. Feeling down and sad has some benefits too.
Sadness can indicate that something is not quite right in our lives, and we may need to identify the problem before we can solve it. So putting an incessantly brave face on everything can mask our true feelings.
I Stumbled Upon a Way to Score My Happiness
This is where my ‘method’ has helped to keep me moving forward without regret for quite a long time. I call it my ‘BIG 5’, and I’d love to share it with you.
Many years ago I stumbled upon a way to score my happiness. Since our happiness and positivity is 50% reliant upon our genes, 10% on circumstances (things which happen TO us) and 40% what we actually DO with our lives… then as it turns out, my strategy is a good one.
When I begin to feel a down I will go for a run. If that doesn’t shake my mood, I will consult my ‘BIG 5’.
I ask myself am I content with the following 5 areas of my life. I must answer yes or no to each one. A YES equals 1 point. A NO equals zero points.
Are You Happy?
Is it a happy place?
Does it resemble a home?
Worried about unusual pains?
Too thin, too fat?
Answer with a simple yes or no to the question, are you happy with your health?
Please take 5 minutes to do the same and total up your result, and if your score is low then you can begin to do something about it. I have always worked on the principle that if I score 3-4 points, that I really don’t have a lot to worry about. I may not be enjoying certain aspects of my life, but I have time to consider them and try to make small changes here and there to keep me smiling. However, if I ever score 1-2, then I have taken immediate action in the past. I have moved home, finished relationships, quit jobs and turned my life upside down to redirect my life. You must be brutally honest with your scores to give you the confidence necessary to make these kinds of changes. No trust – No action – No resolution.
Since I began counting my BIG 5, I have never hit the full house and managed to score 5 out of 5. So I can’t tell you an awful amount about how that feels sorry. I’m guessing it would resemble some kind of omnipotent existence whose love for everything could travel both forwards and backwards in time. I have been at zero before.. and that sucked big time. Trust me, this is a very bad place to be. It was after this I decided to make more proactive steps to avoid it for my future.
So my ‘BIG 5’ does not protect me from unhappiness, but it can urge me on to make a positive change. It can also act as a free insurance policy which always pays out. Counting my blessings is something I have only being doing for 2 years now. Combining both these methods to keep watch over my life satisfaction seems to work very well for me. One acts as a continuous and proactive measure, like visiting a doctor for a regular check up or training a muscle. The ‘BIG 5’ though, acts as a surgical approach which never fails to cut out the rot before it is too late. It’s like my guardian angel looking over me.
Challenging ourselves to find more creative ways to remain positive does not come easy to most of us. I have obviously struggled from time to time, and this is why I continue to remain grateful and ask myself the all important question: