This week I turn 44, and last week I lost a dear friend who fell just shy of her 44th birthday by a month. The juxtaposition of these two events has left me pondering what makes a happy life? The irony of this moment is that I am not sad, nor was my amazing friend as she faced her reality in the last weeks of her life. Together we hacked happiness, sharing many exchanges of gratitude for the things we had, rather than resentful for what we did not. It was magical and it’s left my heart full.
According to studies, 50% of your happiness is genetically determined, 10% relates to your circumstances and the remaining 40%? Well, that’s up to you. It’s determined by your thoughts, your actions and the behaviours you undertake in the everyday. I’m a firm believer of focusing on what you can control and not what you can’t, which is why I choose to play in the 40%. This 40% of my happiness is guided by challenging myself, my mindset, and behaviours, it’s about how I choose to show up in life.
Happiness for me isn’t a goal, nor is it an end state, it’s a way of being.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife. The first question was, “Did you bring joy?” The second was, “Did you find joy?”
~ Leo Buscaglia ~
This is how I keep my happy in check. Not by questioning my belief in the afterlife, but by holding up the mirror at the end of each day with these two simple questions: Did I find joy? Did I bring joy to others?
Ask yourself how might this little happiness hack shift your 40%? Try it, I dare you. What else have I learnt about hacking happiness? I often undertake a little exercise at the beginning of my workshops where I ask people to pull out their phone and share a photo with a random stranger of something that makes them happy. It started as simply a way to energise the room but after running this exercise with thousands around the world, the same themes keep coming up. No one ever shows a photo of a car, a laptop a new dress. The things that make us happy are easily accessible and often cheap or even free.
You don’t have to have the job title of Happiness Hacker like me to find your happy. It’s all around you and simple actions can enable you to weave more of it into your everyday. In celebration of my happy friend's life and my 44 years, I want to gift you a list of 20 simple happiness hacks (that I personally use) to help you turn up the dial on your 40% if you so desire. Enjoy!
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