Can we really boost our level of happiness? This is how my family is raising ours.

Research shows that we all have an innate setpoint of happiness — that general level of well-being with which we come into the world. If left to our own devices, our unique happiness baseline remains quite steady throughout our lives— wonderful if born an optimist, a bit unfortunate if you’re naturally a glass-half-empty kinda girl. One study even indicates that regardless of whether someone wins the lottery or is paralyzed, her degree of happiness returns to original baseline within a year.

The good news is that our happiness setpoint is, to a large degree, under our control if we know how to shape it. Like repetitive exercise for our minds, when we deliberately adopt daily habits supporting optimism, our happiness is eventually strengthened. We all have the power to boost our level of happiness in spite of whatever life throws our way.

It is, therefore, possible to maintain an optimistic worldview despite facing numerous life-challenges. Enter Sarah Trimmer, whose timeline exhibits plenty of adversity. Last year, she shared her happiness life hack in an inspirational Tedx talk. Sarah told me that she was not always a positive thinker: “I was definitely an angry person in my early 20’s. I would say I trained myself to find the good and stay optimistic.”

Using the hashtag #beginandendhappy, this is how Sarah chooses to focus on the positive each day:

• Today I am grateful for…

• Today I helped someone by…

• Something that made me happy today…

• Today I learned…

• Tomorrow I will…

Sarah began by writing out the answers daily, eventually completing the phrases through simple reflection. Her story demonstrates how we can all choose our perspective, positively manipulate our worldview, and influence our overall level of happiness.

As she explains in her talk, #beginandendhappy is not about denying the painful, the terrifying, the challenges life delivers. Not at all. It is about recognizing, grieving, and offering ourselves compassion while also focusing on what is pleasant rather than what is lacking.

So how has my family adopted Sarah’s happiness hack? The #startandendhappy outline now fills the massive chalkboard overlooking our dining room table where we gather nightly. Taking turns completing the phrases over dinner, I have seen a rise in our happiness and gratitude levels in just a few short days.

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your wonderfully motivational story. You have officially paid your happiness forward to my little family. You have also inspired me to do the same.

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Shonda Moralis, MSW, LCSW

484-225-3574   I   shonda@shondamoralis.net

Twin Ponds Integrative Health Center

628 Twin Ponds Road, Breinigsville PA 18031 

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