The Science of Being Happy

I just watched a good movie last night called “The Happy Movie.”  Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 10.27.30 AM

It brought me to thinking about happiness, and how even though I know better…my default setting is to go out LOOKING FOR HAPPINESS.  I’m not alone, most people think that happiness is out there somewhere, that it is something to achieve.

The movie says we all have a set point for happiness. 50% of our happiness is within our genes. Some of us routinely see the glass as ‘half full’ and are more cheery than others. Then, 10% of our happiness is made up of the things that happen that can make us happy. You hear a song that reminds you of a great time in your life or you scratch a ticket and win fifty dollars…you become happy. But it only lasts temporarily.

The other 40% of our happiness we get to create. That is good news! Happiness is felt through release of a feel-good neurotransmitter called Dopamine. A few ways of creating happiness that I know first hand will do the trick:

  1. Getting physical activity doing something you enjoy
  2. Reflecting on what you feel grateful for in your life
  3. Making a difference for another person (volunteering works wonders)
  4. Doing something new with a person you care about
  5. Meditating – quieting your busy mind and trying to only concentrate on loving thoughts about yourself and others.
  6. Being with other people. Spending time with a loving community

Doing repetitive things lessens our happiness. Even if it was once something great, if it becomes routine, it may not bring you happiness anymore. Also, I know many of us spend a lot of time alone. Unfortunately, when we listen to our own internal thoughts, we can often get in a stale or negative mood. Spending time with others is a pathway to happiness.

Very interesting that happiness is being measured in a similar way to depression. Also fascinating is the impact happiness has on depression. A bit of happiness can change the brain in ways some medication cannot.  What makes you happy? I’d love to know!


Sandra Champlain is the author of the #1 international bestseller, We Don’t Die – A Skeptic’s Discovery of Life After Death and How to Survive Grief CD. She is the co-founder of We Care Grief Support helping others through loss back into life. See the documentary made about Sandra and her mission called We Don’t Die – Documenting a Skeptic’s Discovery of Life After Death.