Only one-third of Americans would describe themselves as being “very happy,” according to the 2013 Harris Poll® Happiness index. To calculate Americans’ happiness, the poll surveyed 2,345 adults in the U.S. on a series of topics including relationships, health and finances.
Why is the picture so bleak? The survey points to the tough job market as a possible cause of unhappiness. Some experts might argue, however, that you don’t find happiness by looking outward – you find it by looking within yourself.
A lot of people think you can’t control happiness, that you either have it or you don’t, but that’s simply untrue, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and author of “The Myths of Happiness.” She adds: “You need to believe you can do it before you can take the first steps.”
What’s the first step to improving your own happiness? Try the following self-assessment quiz to see where you stand today. For each question, indicate whether you feel: a) very happy, b) somewhat happy, or c) unhappy:
- How happy are you with your life holistically?
- How happy are you with the personal relationships in your life?
- How happy are you with your job?
- How happy are you with your health?
- How happy are you with your finances?
- How happy are you with who you are as a person?
Next, tally your total for each of the responses (very happy, somewhat happy or unhappy). Then, go back to each question that you answered “somewhat happy” or “unhappy.” Make a list of the obstacles preventing you from being happy in that area of your life, and then determine how you can overcome them.
Throughout the year ahead, as you work through the obstacles, refer to your assessment and take the quiz again. It will be a healthy reminder that the pursuit of happiness is an ongoing and worthwhile journey.
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