Have you noticed all the recent hype about happiness? Books, magazine articles, film documentaries, everyone seems very intent on getting happy. I see it in my practice more than ever. Parents want “happy” kids. Spouses want “happy” marriages. I believe this is new for our generation. I don’t think my immigrant grandparents spent much time thinking about being happy. They focused on supporting their family and raising responsible children who would turn into good citizens. I’m not sure that this shift in focus has been an altogether healthy one for families-but that’s a topic for another day! Let’s stick with the search for happiness for now. I have a confession to make. I don’t especially like the word happiness. It seems shallow to me. I prefer its more substantial cousins- joy, peace, contentment. So when I refer to happiness I am referring to the combination of all these feelings and emotions. With all the recent happiness hype comes lots of new research. Some of it is presented in the August 2013 Psychology Today. Let’s take a look at some of those findings.

Did you realize that human beings have an individual natural set point regarding happiness? That is, that although positive experiences can give us a momentary boost, it’s not long before we each swing back toward our natural set point. That set point is probably part genetics and part personality. But your habits and choices can have an effect. Next time we’ll take a look at some of the habits and choices that can have a positive effect on our happiness.

Food for thought: What is your natural set point for happiness? What is the set point of your family members? Do you know people who seem to have a high set point for happiness? What habits do you think they may engage in to keep it there? Good dinner table discussion for tonight!

About Gretchen Derda (Woosley), MSW, LCSW

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in a private psychotherapy practice where I specialize in work with families and children. My focus is to help families improve their functioning so that each member of the family can reach their full potential, becoming the persons they were meant to be.
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8 Responses to Happiness

  1. Dianne says:

    Wow Gretchen. This sure has me thinking about the differences in my children and myself. Our past and our present. I cannot wait for your next installment on habits and choices.

  2. roamintwin says:

    Regardless of a set point, everyone can find happiness within! Sometimes it takes a little maturity to realize it, though! You have to CHOOSE happiness ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Gretchen D. Woosley, MSW, LCSW says:

      Thank you roamintwin. I agree. I’d love to hear about what habits you have that help you choose happiness on a regular basis.

      • roamintwin says:

        I chose to have a more positive outlook on life a few years ago. I still have my weak points, but I just say things to myself, like: “The good will come. My life is wonderful.” It isn’t the same thing every time. PLUS, I blog about happiness, more as a reminder for me than anything.

  3. Emily says:

    I loved your insight on this! You are right, so many people search for happiness, but I also see so many people who want it, but there they go again needing the drama!!! Kinda counter intuitive, huh?

  4. Gretchen D. Woosley, MSW, LCSW says:

    Emily, it makes you wonder how much those folks really want it, doesn’t it? Sometimes staying where we are, even though we say we aren’t happy, is less challenging than putting forth the effort for change.

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