I have a colleague who is a successful leadership consultant/speaker. She is attractive, smart, successful, healthy and wealthy. She is also one of the unhappiest people I know. She delivers motivational speeches about leadership and openly admits she struggles with staying happy. How can someone who seems to have it all be so miserable?
I also know many people who have not been so lucky, struggling with failing health and poor finances, yet they are much happier. What's the correlation?
According to the experts, the psychology of happiness suggests everyone has a level of contentment that stays fairly constant through changing circumstances. If you win the lottery, lose your job or get a divorce, your happiness will be temporarily affected, but eventually your set point for happiness will return to its previous position.
Dr Martin Seligman suggests that the key to happiness is not from external events but from our character strengths. The good news is, it can change. Some of the 24 character strengths that lead us to happiness are gratitude, creativity, kindness,bravery, etc. In my motivational speeches I often quote Dr Seligman because he is one of the foremost authorities on happiness.
To follow this thinking, Some people may have a higher happiness set point because they are naturally creative. Some are happier because they have a lot of gratitude, others because they are brave and take risks which leads to an exciting life.
To me, this means that if you want to be happy, work on your character. Spend more time being grateful for the gifts in your life. Take wise, measured risks. Think outside the box and be creative. All of these things will ultimately raise your set point for happiness as you become more aware of the good things around you, of your innate capabilities, of your ability to stretch and grow into the world.
I recently shared this information with my unhappy leadership speaker friend and she was inspired. What about you?