So how can we be happier? Researchers have found that we each have a "happiness set point," an emotional place we tend to return to unless we make a conscious effort to do something different in our lives. And that emotional set point is only 10 percent determined by outside factors like money, marital status, and job. Only 10 percent! Some researchers have found that four out of five people post-divorce were still not satisfied or happy in their lives. (Of course, we didn't talk to all those people, but it's pretty safe to assume those divorcées thought their marriages were making them unhappy, when it turned out they were just unhappy, period, and their marriages could not fix that.) The key here is to know that, despite our individual set points, we need to be proactive about wanting to be happy and doing something about it.
As a mom named Shana said to us, "I could go to bed and be asleep when he gets home, or try to stay up and chat with him. To me, that's choosing happiness. It's not a mind-set. It's choosing to talk, choosing to be with him. It's unglamorous, but I know I need to stay up to say hello to him."
Published on March 11, 2009