Our 2013 gratitude jar commitment has continued longer than I’d dared to hope.
Like over three years longer and counting.
Quite frankly, even though she was 7 when we started, I’d envisioned the project as something Id have to
make nudge The Child to become enthusiastic about.
And yet, to my surprise, she’s still typically the instigator of our gratitude moments.
Sometimes she sneaks off to her room, writes/paints/draws her gratitude and brings it back to our jar.
Other times she’ll grab our special pink papers & announce it’s time for both of us to think of some things we’re grateful for.
She enjoys the process of writing down her gratitude *and* the experience of revisiting her thoughts.
So much so we’ve wordlessly shed our uber-rigid plan of NOT re-reading until each year at New Years Eve. Apparently we’re a grateful *and* fluid duo.
Thanks to our jar I’ve spent time thinking about gratitude on a more regular basis.
- Ive always possessed a general sense of gratitude.
- Ive always been keenly aware, even during my most strapped days, I have lots and it’s incumbent upon me to be grateful and give back.
- I don’t always follow the adage of “sometimes the things we should be most grateful for are the problems we do not have.“
For the past few months I’ve mainly focused my energy on that third bullet point.
I’ve started my days with it in the front of my mind and I’ve ended them revisiting the same notion.
And I’ve felt happier.
This happiness led me to wonder if we each possess a certain level of achievable happiness or if, as they say, the sky really is the limit?
Could we be as wholly and utterly happy as we make up our minds to be?
And then I discovered the concept of a Happiness Set Point.
A Happiness Set Point asserts various factors can nudge our happy-levels up or down momentarily, but we’re pretty much destined to return to where we started.
If we’re only medium-happy people we may grow super-joyful if something extraordinary occurs—but will always end up back medium in the end.
Crazy huh? Think weight set point but with your happy.
Most fascinating to me is the only factor research identifies which can potentially impact our genetically-determined level of happiness is gratitude.
(I’m grateful to still find notes left for me around the house)
Whether you are naturally happy or not (I’m a “my glass is overflowing–may I pour some in yours?” woman by nature) choosing to exercise your gratitude-muscle can help *break through* your happiness set point.
40% of happiness is determined by intentional activity.
We control much of our destiny.
Our genetics may be loaded—but the trigger doesn’t need to be pulled.
Circumstances may not be perfect—but we can impact how we perceive and feel about the way they are.
40% of happiness is determined by intentional activity.
We can launch a morning pages practice, find a gratitude partner, work on our internal monologue, create a gratitude jar, or focus on the gratitude of selflessness.
Whatever we choose–it’s important to commit to living with intentional gratitude activity.
Today my happiness and gratitude are both sky high.
I’m grateful to be (intentionally) stealing this one away for a surprise today after-school
I’m grateful my world of work is structured such that I can do that.
(And I’m grateful double digits will still see this as exciting and not as a stuck-with-mom chore.)
- Do you believe in happiness set points? If yes, do you think we have the power to change them?
- What problems are you grateful NOT to have today?
Angela @ Happy Fit Mama saysMarch 28, 2016 at 4:22 am
I like the spin on what problems are you grateful not to have today. I work with people who are quite sick. And seem to be getting younger everyday. It definitely puts things into perspective.
Coco saysMarch 28, 2016 at 4:27 am
If so, I think mine is pretty high. I’d hate for someone who’s not feeling joy to think they are just destined to be miserable or even just okay.
Bea saysMarch 28, 2016 at 4:59 am
This is a daily challenge for me.
I really think if left to my own devices I would be unhappy most of the time. I never thought about it, but gratitude is one way I nudge my level up.
Debbie Rodrigues saysMarch 28, 2016 at 5:03 am
Love it, Carla!
Things changed to me when I started writing down (not always) daily the things I was grateful for. I was thankful for a lot of things, but putting them on paper made me realized how blessed I am.
For example, after what happened here in Belgium last week, when you think that when I travel, that’s the time I’m generally at the airport, those are the exact places where my partner and I hang around, it’s confronting.
Thanks for this great reminder!
Alana saysMarch 28, 2016 at 5:09 am
I am all too familiar with weight set points (for better or worse). I had never thought of a happiness set point. I think you are right, though, after thinking about myself, and others in my life. I only started a gratitude practice after my best friend was diagnosed with a cancer that had a low survival rate. I have a long way to go.
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysMarch 28, 2016 at 5:17 am
Very interesting. Kind of like how your body has a “happy” body weight that it naturally gravitates towards. I’m going to think on this. I think I project a high happiness set point through my blog, because I rely on my blog to keep my perspective and positivity, but I haven’t thought about my real life happiness set point.
Paula Kiger saysMarch 28, 2016 at 5:38 am
Love it! I have to think about the set point thing, but it does make sense!! As far as what I am grateful I don’t have —- it’s so easy to take our health for granted. I have SEVERAL friends with very serious health issues right now, and I love with someone (my 86 yo FIL) who has had chronic pain for 20 years — the kind where you are basically trying for 5 hours to elapse quickly so you can have another pain pill. I know I am blessed currently and that is definitely something to be overtly thankful for!
Carla saysMarch 28, 2016 at 8:10 am
It has really reminded me how fortunate I am to PAUSE each day, say a prayer for friends who *are* struggling and focus on gratitude for struggles I dont have. Most times it’s struggles Ive had in the past and no longer do—-and Im so very grateful.
Sally saysMarch 28, 2016 at 5:43 am
I think it is as simple as gratitude lessens stress which makes us happier!
Leanne saysMarch 28, 2016 at 5:49 am
I definitely think some people find happiness easier to “achieve” than others. I am a more upbeat person than my husband and son. They are more controlled and a bit flat-line in their approach to life. I also completely agree that gratitude has a big part to play.
Carla saysMarch 28, 2016 at 8:09 am
I find what you say about flat lined so interesting as Ive seen that as well. In my world the FLATLINERS 🙂 would *not* classify themselves as unhappy either! That’s a whole ‘nother post I guess…
Corinne Rodrigues saysMarch 28, 2016 at 7:55 am
Interesting! I’m certain that my conscious efforts to be more grateful have helped a lot to make me happier.
PS: You’re daughter is an absolute sweetie!
Annmarie saysMarch 28, 2016 at 8:39 am
I have a gratitude journal that was gifted to me years ago and it is still sitting blank in my nightstand. I don’t know what my hesitation is but I really need to start practicing writing in it daily!
Haralee saysMarch 28, 2016 at 9:01 am
Carla this is great. BTW I love her T shirt slogan! I think happiness is something some people have to work at and others find it naturally.
I am always grateful to wake up and not be in any physical pain. SO I am grateful to not have a headache, back ache, or tooth pain today!
Catherine saysMarch 28, 2016 at 9:04 am
Having a gratitude jar and just being more mindful of the little (& not so little) things has made a huge difference in my daily – and general – happiness.
Though I’m largely an optimist/idealist, I can be very pessimistic day-to-day. Now, I try (keyword) not to let the little things bring me down because I CHOOSE happiness/gratitude.
All that said, I DO think there is a happiness set point. Some people, even if they realize their blessings, are just predisposed to be somewhat pessimistic.
I think the important thing for ANYBODY to realize is you shouldn’t chase happiness like it’s a destination you one day arrive at. It’s something you create DAILY and actively – for yourself.
Thanks again for getting me to think <3
Laura @ Mommy Run Fast saysMarch 28, 2016 at 9:50 am
A happiness set point is such an interesting concept! I think a big part of my general happiness is from watching my mom and dad – they dealt with life’s ups and downs with grace and hard work. I saw them make it a choice, and it helped me understand how to choose happiness regardless of circumstances… or at least most of the time!
email@example.com saysMarch 28, 2016 at 10:26 am
I love this Carla! Gratitude is a big one for me. I’m grateful each and everyday!
Hollie saysMarch 28, 2016 at 11:34 am
This post resonated with me a lot. I think it’s important to look back and see what kind of issues you are overcoming or not having to deal with. That’s a huge step to be honest that many people do overlook.
Megan Olson saysMarch 28, 2016 at 12:56 pm
You know, I hadn’t thought about this but you bring up a good point. We obviously have control over our attitudes, reactions and thus, our happiness. I’m not sure if there is a happiness set point, but I imagine like a lot of things there is a place of not enough and extreme.
Ligeia saysMarch 28, 2016 at 1:04 pm
Hi Carla – What a provocative and thoughtful post. I have seen versions of these ideas here and there, but never centralized into a coherent meditation of gratitude. Thank you. I personally have tended to see the glass as half-empty rather than half-full, but as I age that is changing. As many folks have mentioned in earlier comments, I have lost friends and have some who have or are battling major health issues. I have chronic and devastating migraines, but I think they may be getting better, so I am endlessly grateful for every good day. I am also so very grateful to be in a happy marriage. It’s such a profound blessing.
Glenda saysMarch 28, 2016 at 4:51 pm
When I feel myself getting into a funk, I often call-on my husband. He has a very calming way about him. After talking with him, I realize my funk isn’t worth too much of my time, and I begin to think of all the wonderful things in my life.
Roxanne Jones saysMarch 28, 2016 at 4:51 pm
I definitely believe we can change our happiness set points — if we CHOOSE to. In my late twenties, I went through a series of really depressing situations and made a conscious decision to let that shit go and allow myself to be happy. I remember being impressed by someone who was so upbeat and fun to be around, and thinking, “I want to be like THAT.” It was a real turning point for me because I’d always been pretty unassuming and passive, a real glass half-empty kind of person. Not anymore. Great post, Carla, and great discussion from your followers!
Christine @ Love, Life, Surf saysMarch 28, 2016 at 5:36 pm
I’ve read about this before and have thought about it a lot. And I don’t know. I do think that we have a happiness set point but I don’t think that it’s destined to be the same forever, unless you choose to let it be. I know in the last couple of years I’ve worked hard to try to change mine by shifting my perspective versus someone else in the house who likes his cranky normal 🙂
Jody - Fit at 58 saysMarch 28, 2016 at 6:52 pm
I read this early today & still thinking about it. I do feel that happiness & how we feel about it can be set by our upbringing & how they feel about it. I also think we can change it but for some it is hard based on learned past behaviour & just the behaviour we are surrounded by… Sometimes life is an obstacle but we have to figure out how to get over the hurdle. AND there are many problems I am grateful not to have today!
cheryl saysMarch 28, 2016 at 7:39 pm
Grateful to not have health, money or addiction problems like so many I know have…
I have no happiness set point…I am happiest at work presenting something to children and getting much back from them (or their parents) in return. I just keep getting happier and happier as I get older…imagine how happy I will be when I someday have grandchildren!
Nicole @ Fitful Focus saysMarch 28, 2016 at 8:13 pm
What an interesting concept! I really need to think about that over the next few days. I also think starting some sort of gratitude jar or journal is a wonderful idea. I make it a goal each and every year to be more positive than the year before, and I think keeping a journal or something of the sort will really help put things in perspective.
Laurie @ Musings, Rants & Scribbles saysMarch 29, 2016 at 3:31 pm
I believe some people like being unhappy, or at least melancholy. They’re a little wedded to their sadness. I feel lucky that I enjoy (and feel I deserve) to be happy. Then again, I had a good childhood so maybe that helped. Great read. Thanks.
GiGi Eats saysMarch 29, 2016 at 7:59 pm
I AM GRATEFUL TO NOT BE IN THE DARK ABOUT ONE OF MY STOMACH ISSUES – I know about 5 trillion of them, however, I was diagnosed with ANOTHER TODAY – so YESSSSSS I can treat the friggin’ issue!!!! 😀 Who would have thought you could be HAPPY about being diagnosed with a PROBLEM! LOL!
Jess @hellotofit saysApril 1, 2016 at 10:58 am
You have challenged me to ponder about this “happiness set point”, and being grateful for the problems I DON’T have. I think I tend to gravitate towards happiness, but have bouts of stormy gloomy clouds when I’m feeling stressed; I think when I’m stressed, I’m not being grateful.
Farrah saysApril 3, 2016 at 11:35 pm
I usually have a general sense of gratitude as well, but I think I also tend to feel happier when I acknowledge them more specifically. I think I have a pretty high happiness set point! :]
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