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A Model of
by Kevin Eikenberry
Everyone I've ever met considers happiness to be
desirable. There is a whole wing of psychology called "positive
psychology" studying things like happiness. One of the luminaries of
this field is Dr. Martin Seligman, who wrote both Learned Optimism
and Authentic Happiness. His group publishes a newsletter called
Authentic Happiness Coaching Newsletter.
The most recent issue of this newsletter discusses a Model of
Happiness developed by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky and others. This model
describes our happiness as coming from three components.
Our Set Point (50%) This is our natural happiness
state. We all know people who seem to always be happy, and others
who seldom laugh or seem joyful.
Circumstances (10%) Our life circumstances also
influence our happiness. Things like winning the lottery or
spraining our ankle both influence our happiness, but typically over
a short time period. Humans are very adaptable and so major boosts
or dips in our happiness are generally short lived.
Intentional Activity (40%) For this description, let me
quote from the newsletter. "The term intentional activities refers
to those thoughts and behaviors that require effort. This effort may
be apparent only to us (for example, making a list of goals for the
week) or it may be visible to others (for example, doing a favor for
a friend). They suggest that intentional activities are the key to
making lasting changes in happiness because such activities are more
resistant to adaptation (the process by which we get used to
something and become unaffected by it). We can deliberately engage
in activities that make us happy while varying them enough to ward
This brief summary of this model leaves me with two important
1. Most people's world views on happiness rest with either Set point
(we are either born happy or not) or circumstances (it's easy for
them to be happy, look at what they have going for them). Either of
these world views is too limiting and fatalistic.
2. We can actively impact our happiness, based on our decisions and
If you want to be happier you can take action to do just that - it
is in your control!
How do you do that?
There are many ways you can intentionally improve your happiness.
One way suggested by the article is to engage in random (or perhaps
intentional) acts of kindness. Make these actions something that
benefit others and require use of a personal resource of yours
(time, effort, energy, money, food, etc.).
Happiness matters to us as individuals. If we are happier we will
likely be much more productive as individuals and as leaders of
others too! Once we understand that a big part of our happiness is
in our control, we put ourselves on track to be not just happier,
but more effective productive and move more rapidly towards our
Kevin Eikenberry may be contacted at
info@KevinEikenberry.com. Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert
and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group
(http://KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company. To
receive a free Special Report on leadership that includes resources,
ideas, and advice go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/leadership.asp
or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.
Michele Caron, 2002-2005