This is the last of the 4 part series with my co-host Ted Carr. Today we will be discussing an article about the road to happiness. Last week, the two of us discussed an article about Estate Planning Myths. If you missed it, here is the link www.RockYourRetirement.com/166
There are many avenues on the road to happiness. (It sounds like a movie title doesn't it?) But the single most accessible, most important, most obvious route is also the most difficult to tread. We'll try to question ourselves. Can we even make ourselves happier? Is it even possible? Isn't happiness some kind of a sub like it happens but you can't really chase it?
What is True Happiness?
People will argue about what true happiness is. Most will say you either are or aren't born happy. Sort of like you're predisposed to be happy. However, there are certain things that you do that the result of doing them makes yourself happy. For example, if you have a lot of friends your chances of being happy are more than if you are alone. You can't really chase happiness, like, I'm gonna do this today to make myself happy. There are things that you do that the result of it is just happiness.
The Road to Happiness is Determined by Genetics
Statistics show that 50 percent of happiness is determined by genetics and therefore out of your control. While 10 percent refers to situational happiness. That includes whether we are rich or poor, healthy or ill, where we live, what our job is, or whether we will get a job at all. Meaning, a rich, beautiful, perfectly healthy person with everything going for them only has a 10 percent headstart on the person whose entire life is a complete mess.
Same with those famous people who commit suicide. On the outside, you think that they have a perfect life. But on the inside, their lives are completely different.
The road to happiness isn't just only determined based on situations. Most road to happiness that's based on situations is only temporary. Why? Because we tend to have more of what we already have. This is called Hedonic Adaptation, where we get used to things and we end up wanting more of what we already have. From new additions, making more accomplishments, new house, new car, new job. In other words, lifestyle inflation.
We're just wired to adaptation but always wanting more. It's like going back to the days of primal survival instinct. The feeling that more means we got a better chance of surviving. Surviving in the future where we don't have anything.
The Road to Happiness on a Day to Day Basis
We discussed that 50% of happiness is being based on genetics and 10% are situational. The last 40% of the road to happiness is based on what we think or what we do on a day to day basis. This 40% will give us a chance to make things happier for our lives. This includes helping others, having new experiences, practicing gratitude, and building a positive mindset.
My journal called, “The Baby Boomer's 30 Day Journal“, which is available on Amazon, takes into account the 6 areas of retirement lifestyle. It talks about doing something spiritual in the morning whether it is meditating, praying, or setting goals for yourself. People setting small goals are happier in general because you can achieve a small goal. There's a lot of factors within this 40% that we can influence the outcome of our road to happiness.
Focus in that Moment
Some people are happy because they live in the moment. The contents of these moments to moments of living have a big influence on people's happiness. People who focus at that moment are happier when their minds are not wandering, including neutral pleasant or unpleasant mind wandering. When you focus on what you are doing instead of mind wandering, you tend to be much happier.
People who are grateful are way happier than people who aren't. Writing the things that I'm grateful for was hard for me. What I did to make it easier was to go through the letters of the alphabet. I started with the first letter which is A. What are the words that start with an A that I have not said already. And then the next day is B, and so forth until it gets to Z and then I start over again.
Another way of looking at the whole gratitude thing is Stoic Lessons. These are are teachings of philosophers in which it teaches the development of self-control and fortitude to overcome destructive emotions. They thought that we should regulate or take a timeout of our day to imagine the loss. Taking time to consider how would we feel if we lose the things in our lives that would make us appreciate the fact that we still have them. What would be my life be like if I didn't have this house, I didn't have a car, or I didn't have my fingers?
Everyone's road to happiness is bumpy. But learn how to practice mindfulness, try to live in the moment, savor your experiences, practice gratitude, be grateful for what you have. Never complain about yourself and don't take yourself so seriously. We put a lot of emphasis on being happy and maybe that's misplaced. Just be yourself and accept yourself. As Whitney Houston says, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest gift of them all.”
About Our Co-Host
Ted Carr retired from a biotech company in San Francisco when he was in his mid-50s. He had a difficult adjustment in the beginning but was able to get through it. He started writing about the 6 stages of Retirement. Many people over the years asked him how he was able to retire so early so he started a podcast, which is now completed, called retirement journeys.
Now he has a new podcast called Retire Hoppy where his guests talk about a retirement subject while sampling beer.
Articles mentioned in this episode:
This post about retirement and Retirement Lifestyle first appeared on http://RockYourRetirement.com