Episode 61: What’s Your Happiness Set-Point?

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“ Researchers have found that no matter what happens to you in life, you tend to return to a fixed range of happiness. Like your weight set-point, which keeps the scale hovering around the same number, your happiness set-point will remain the same unless you make a concerted effort to change it .” ~ Marci Shimoff from Happy for No Reason

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“ Researchers have found that no matter what happens to you in life, you tend to return to a fixed range of happiness. Like your weight set-point, which keeps the scale hovering around the same number, your happiness set-point will remain the same unless you make a concerted effort to change it .” ~ Marci Shimoff from Happy for No Reason

Did you know we all have a happiness set-point? Fascinating stuff that researchers are discovering.

As Marci says: “In fact, there was a famous study conducted that tracked people who’d won the lottery--what many people think of as the ticket to the magic kingdom of joy. Within a year, these lucky winners returned to approximately the same level of happiness they’d experienced before their windfall. Surprisingly, the same was true for people who became paraplegic. Within a year or so of being disabled, they also returned to their original happiness level.”

You can think of your set-point like a thermostat. If it gets a little warmer in your house (i.e., you get a little happier!) the thermostat will bring your house/you down to the set-point. And, if it gets a little too cold, it’ll bring you up.

Researchers posit that 50% of our set-point comes from genetics while 10% is determined by our circumstances (like our job, marital status, wealth). “The other 40 percent is determined by our habitual thoughts, feelings, words and actions. This is why it’s possible to raise your happiness set-point. In the same way you’d crank up the thermostat to get comfortable on a chilly day, you actually have the power to re-program your happiness set-point to a higher level of peace and well-being.”

So, the good news is that we can CHANGE our set-point. Of course, that doesn’t (usually) happen with a snap of our fingers. It takes diligent, patient and persistent practice.

Brian Johnson,

Chief Philosopher

This is one of the 1,000+ Big Ideas we share in our 6-page PDF and 20-minute MP3 PhilosophersNotes on 100 of the greatest self-development books. Get 100 Notes for only 47 bucks!