The Happiness Quotient

Welcome to Format Free Fridays, the one day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited information.

You may not know this, but I have a fundamental problem with my profession.  I always have.  It started back when I was 19 with my first experience in therapy as a client.  That shrink spent 2 years trying to identify what was wrong with me, which lucky for her, wasn’t too challenging.

Historically speaking, that’s been the way therapy and counseling worked. Figure out what’s wrong with a client and then try to fix it.  But I have a big problem when my most lofty professional goal is to make miserable people less miserable.

What about making someone's average life more fulfilling?  What about helping a client to build their dream life or their dream profession or their dream relationship?  What about working with people who are genius instead of those with disabilities?

The reality is, most people don’t cross the threshold into my office unless there’s something wrong, but once they do and they become A-symptomatic, the fun really begins, because that’s when I get to dive into the most creative work I do: Increasing happiness.

Happiness may seem like an ambiguous goal to work on but it’s actually one of the easiest things to measure, and if you can measure it, you can measure increased levels in it over time. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters to most of us.  It’s what drives us into relationships and into our chosen career.  We pick a career either because it will provide us with the money we need to buy things that will make us happy, or because the career itself makes us happy.  We choose where to live because we believe that either the location or the proximity to friends and family will make us happy.  Every purchase decision is based on a desire to increase our happiness.  Even this new lip gloss I bought yesterday.

But the reality is, most of those things don’t provide us with long-term happiness. Money helps, but once you get to the point where you can pay your bills, greater amounts of money has a much lower effect on our levels of happiness.  So what makes happy people happy?

Happier people aren’t better looking, they aren't smarter, and they aren't wealthier. They are more social. It’s that simple.  Positive relationships is what drives happiness.  So what does that mean for you?

Try a 30-day experiment.  Call 4 friends who you haven’t seen in a while and make plans to see one of them each weekend for the next 4 weeks.  Before the first weekend, go to AuthenticHappiness.org and measure your happiness by taking the Authentic Happiness Inventory.  At the end of the experiment, measure your happiness again and compare the two scores.

More importantly, reflect back on your memories with those friends from the past 30 days.  How do you feel?  More connected?  Of course you do. So keep it up.  Put something on the calendar for most weekends so you have something to look forward to and watch your levels of happiness soar!