Part One


By Karin Leonard

According to recent studies by the University of Chicago 60% of Americans consider themselves “pretty happy.” Only 30% claim to be “very happy.” How you would rate your level of happiness? On a progressive scale of one to five, what number would you give yourself?

Conditional Happiness

If you did not grant yourself a five in the above rating, what would need to happen for you to score higher? Most of us put conditions on our happiness. Maybe finding the perfect partner, scoring the dream home or landing a high paying job will bring happiness ever after… Will it occur after we make our first million, or when we finally lose those extra twenty pounds? What is it for you? Conditional happiness works, at least for a while. After we attain what we longed for, bliss is ours at last until the high wears off.  We then discover that we haven’t fundamentally changed. Recent identical twin studies by psychologist David Lykken indicate that we have a “happiness set point”. In other words, we have an acquired comfort zone of bliss. After unusual ups, or devastating downs, we automatically and quickly return to this familiar state. However, even though the degree of happiness we experience is in part genetic, it is possible to raise our set-point. Just as you can change your metabolism through exercise, you can shape your emotional state by taking full responsibility for your own happiness. You have immensely more influence on your inner experience then is commonly assumed. Begin by carefully examining what you think your happiness depends on. Then decide whether you want to delay your happiness until you have met your conditions. Why not make it easier to attain a joyful state of mind? 

Natural Happiness

Actually, experiencing joy may be our natural state of being, and as we remove inner obstacles to bliss we get closer to being at peace. Just observe healthy children. They are full of joy most of the time, and will quickly and intensely move through upsets. Before you know it, they are smiling again.

When we are truly happy we know we are on the right track with life. Nature always seeks to find equilibrium, and your psyche consistently pursues wholeness, balance and harmony. And much of what we do is geared towards making ourselves feel better. Even bad habits can be an attempt to take care of ourselves. Many a smoker, for example, will tell you that cigarettes help him cope emotionally. Now, we all know that smoking is bad for your health – the intention though is usually positive. Even “negative” emotions like fear, anger or overwhelm can give you information about how to get back to inner harmony – they are a valuable guiding system, and it is crucial to acknowledge and process feelings. Anger, for example, usually indicates that an important boundary was violated. When you understand the “message” the upset is communicating, you can then decide what to do about the source. To regain inner peace, you might choose to confront the issue with the offender, get the emotion out of your system through exercise, or find you can let this one go.

Everything that is not a source of happiness can be a reminder to focus back on what is essential. This allows you to be a powerful advocate of your own happiness.


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Karin Leonard & Associates:  (831) 724-5400  

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