The hunt for happiness
Updated On: Mar 25 2013 06:45:00 AM EDT
These days, it seems everywhere you turn there are books and web sites on how to find happiness. But recent research shows it could be that unending search that is sabotaging our success.
Lorraine Robertson admits she doesn't have to work too hard to find joy.
“I wake up happy,” she says.
Robertson is lucky and she knows it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 10 American adults report being clinically depressed. Anti-depressant usage has increased 400 percent since 1994.
A quick search online reveals an explosion in the number of books, web sites and now even phone apps - all trying to help us find our "happy." As it turns out, it comes more naturally to some of us than others.
“I think I have naturally, like a happy disposition," said Robertson.
“About 50% of happiness is genetically determined, so some people are born Tiggers and some people are born Eeyores,” said Gretchn Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home.
Rubin says your genetics aren't all that dictate your disposition, though. In her research, she discovered your connection to others plays a major role, too.
“People who report having long-term intimate relationships where they can confide, where they feel like they belong, these people do tend to be happier,” said Rubin.
Something else she discovered: it's not huge life changes like a new house or fancy car that make the most impact. Sometimes little things like the smell of an orange give the biggest happiness boost.
“Over and over, people tell me something like cleaning out a medicine cabinet gives them a huge jolt of good cheer and energy,” said Rubin.
Dr. June Gruber, with the Yale Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab, says it's okay to explore, but be careful of overloading on happiness sites, books, pages and pins. The reason: you may end up with the opposite effect.
“The more obsessed we are with trying to become happy, the more energy we put towards sort of happiness as the end goal, the less happy we are and actually the greater risk we are for feeling unhappy and depressed,” said Gruber.
She points to studies that indicate the more you accept, who and how you are, the happier you are likely to become.
“By accepting our feelings, we’re actually less likely to judge ourselves and to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression,” said Gruber.
Rubin says her finding confirm this. Self-knowledge is pivotal to a positive perspective.
“It’s really easy to be distracted by the way we think we ought to be, or the way we wish we were, or the way other people think we ought to be, and to lose track of what’s really true for us,” she said.
Robertson is happiest spending time with her family, but admits sometimes it's getting away that brings her joy, either going for a run or losing herself in music.
“I think sometimes people are afraid to be happy or let go,” she said.
One simple thing Rubin says makes a difference in terns of happiness is making the bed each morning. She says the simple act can make all the difference in your day.
Copyright 2013 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.