In a recent article, Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain (cached version), Kathy Sierra discusses the biology involved with happiness and how being around happy people can elevate your mood and vice versa. Emotions are contagious. You will begin acting and feeling like those you are around.
I’ve read a number of books concerning happiness. My favorite has been How we Choose to be Happy by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks in which the authors present a scientific study of happy people and the attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs that led those people to perpetual happiness.
The authors claim that there are nine components of true happiness.
- Intention – the active desire and commitment to be happy, and the decision to consciously choose attitudes and behaviors that lead to happiness over unhappiness.
- Accountability – the choice to create the life you want to live, to assume personal responsibility for your actions, thoughts and feelings, and the emphatic refusal to blame others or view yourself as a victim.
- Identification – the ongoing process of looking deeply within yourself to assess what makes you uniquely happy, apart from what you’re told by others should make you happy.
- Centrality – the non-negotiable insistence on making central to your life that which brings you happiness.
- Recasting – the two-step process that transforms stressful problems and trauma into something meaningful, important and a source of emotional energy.
- Options – the decision to approach life by creating multiple scenarios, to be open to new possibilities and to adopt a flexible approach to life’s journey.
- Appreciation – the choice to appreciate deeply your life and the people in it, and to “stay in the present” by turning each experience into something precious.
- Giving – the choice to share yourself with friends and community, and to give to the world at large without the expectation of a “return”.
- Truthfulness – the choice to be honest with yourself and others, and not allow societal, workplace, or family demands to violate your internal contract.