Happiness (1/3): What to Understand and How to Take Control

Apr 20, 2013
Sometimes trying to achieve happiness can feel like chasing your own shadow. However, with a greater understanding of its mechanics, you'll master it in no time.

Sometimes trying to achieve happiness can feel like chasing your own shadow. However, with a greater understanding of its mechanics, you’ll master it in no time.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series:

Happiness (2/3): Where to Invest Your Dollars in Happiness

Happiness (3/3): Why We Get Bored and What To Do About It


Happiness. Where is it? And how do I get there? Everybody wants to know. Well what’s there to know? Well, for starters, achieving happiness is easier than you might think.


Understanding the Mechanics of Happiness

Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the world’s preeminent experts in the field, breaks happiness down into two components- an Emotional Component and a Cognitive Component.


The Emotional Component

The Emotional Component consists of those feelings we usually associate Happiness with; feelings such as joy, excitement, and curiosity.

She further separates the Emotional Component into two affects- High Arousal and Low Arousal. Sometimes the happiness we experience gives us a massive rush of euphoria. We associate that euphoria with excitement and joy. What are some experiences that give you these feeling?

Those intense feelings are known as High Arousal Positive Affects and are the ones we notice most when we are gauging our own happiness.

However, we also gain a level of happiness from Low Arousal Positive Affect emotions such as a sense of calmness, peacefulness and contentment. What are some experiences that give you these feelings? These emotions are less obvious to us because they lack that sense of euphoria. However, they are still fundamental to our overall happiness.


The Cognitive Component

The Cognitive Component, or lifestyle satisfaction, is more in line with how we view our life is going. We are naturally happier people if we feel like our lives are progressing in a good, positive fashion. The more satisfied we are with our path in life, the happier we are going to be.


The Happiness Set Point

Professor Lyubomirsky also explains that each person has a set happiness level. This is entirely unique to you. We’ve all met people who just seem happier than others- this is simply because they have a higher Set Point for Happiness.

Our Set Point is changeable and can be shifted one way or another, depending the events in our lives.

A trauma such as losing a spouse or family member can lower our natural Set Point for Happiness, just like a positive life event such as marriage can increase it.

The thing to remember is that we are extremely resilient and willful. You have all the power and resources you need to choose and move towards your ideal Set Point for Happiness. Are you satisfied with your current Set Point?

Just remember that your level of happiness is under your control. So take control!


Ready to dissolve stress, frustration, and unhappiness? Want more help finding your inner peace and unconditional well-being? Then visit:

Awaken Through Mindfulness


Leave us a comment below and tell us how you’re taking control of your happiness.