So, what is the happiness set point? It is this idea that our happiness is about 50% prewired. In fact, it would describe that we are about 50% genetically predisposed to a certain level of happiness, 10% of our happiness is situational and the last 40% is…well…up to us. Much of this research has been born out of the study of identical twins by geneticist, David Lykken. One of the most revealing stories comes from the James Brothers. Of course, these are not the James brothers that likely first come to mind. It’s not Jesse and Frank.
There were two identical twin brothers who were separated at birth who were coincidentally both named James and met for the first time at 39 years of age. When they met they were both six feet tall weighing 180 pounds. They smoked Salems, drank Miller Light and bit their fingernails. Plus, they both married women named Linda, divorced them and remarried women named Betty. Their firstborn sons were named James, James Alan and James Allen. Plus, their dogs were named “Toy”. Each of them had owned a light blue Chevy and drove it to the same beach in Florida to vacation. It’s not just coincidence. There are many similar stories among identical twins. The point is: genetics determines a lot of who we become. Science suggests that number is 50%. Another 10% is circumstantially determined and 40% we determine through intentional activity or lack thereof.
What if my set point is low meaning I am predisposed to be more down than most? If this is true of you then you probably suspected it already but may not have called it by the name set point. And...it is what it is. However, there is a tremendous promise here for all of us by being intentional about the happiness we want to create. Why? 40% is completely up to us and many of our life circumstances are under our influence if not control bringing the other 10% into play.
To give you an example of intentional activity and one you might want to try…write three emails every day for the next 21 days expressing genuine gratitude to someone. Then, stay tuned for more articles on intentional activity.
Coming Soon: The Promise of Intentional Activity
Related Happiness Articles
Does Money Make You Happy?
“Why Be Happy? It Can’t Buy You Money” said Henny Youngman
Myths of Happiness (Part 1)
Myth #2: I Must Change My Circumstances To Be Happy (Part 2)
Myth #3: You Are Either Happy Or You’re Not (Part 3)
What’s More Important: GDP or Gross domestic Happiness?