Recently I discovered happiness. In fact, during cancer treatment I experienced flow more often than the previous two years together!

So I started to research it, read everything I stumbled into and signed up for a Positive Psychology course with Martin Seligman, founding father of Positive Psychology.

I realized that:

Happiness does NOT depend on your circumstances. Happiness is within you. You have the power. Click To Tweet

There’s so much research that proves that!

In fact, happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirski states that your situation accounts to only 10% of your life satisfaction.

How do we know?

From twin studies – studying twins who have the same genetic disposition and are coming from the same background.

Numerous research has been made on this topic that provide further evidence.

For instance, in a study haemodialysis patients were asked to share their mood every time they received a beep. It turned out, their general well-being was not at all worse than that of the control group members, composed of healthy people.

Another interesting prove is the study about paraplegic people and lottery winners. A year after losing the use of their legs and a year after winning the lotto, lottery winners and paraplegics were equally happy with their lives.

Just think about it for a second!

Does this mean winning the lottery sucks? No, but people tend to invest their gain in something that becomes normality after a while (house, car), instead of using that amount to feed their needs and happiness on long-term.

And anyway, studies by Stanford and Harvard universities show that money is not a major happiness tool – once you cover your basic needs, more money will not make you happier.

How about the paraplegic? How can they be happy in such a situation? Again, we’re talking about adaptation. Certainly they cannot keep on living the same life, but they can take on new activities and perspectives that increase their well-being. Makes sense?

So, if it’s not our circumstances that define our level of happiness, what does?

That’s where our perspective and attitude comes in!

I shared this same phrase once in a Facebook thread on a discussion around happiness. “You need to experience the world more before writing such a thing”, someone commented.

In reality, I did experience the world. Mine and others’ too.

I had cancer, and yet I was able to feel joy and flow because I was able to reframe my situation, reconnect with my emotions and needs, set small goals and reach them, and more. I wrote a whole article on the exact lessons I learned during cancer.

Or there was this single Mom who raised 5 kids by herself, jobless, having no money at all, not even for their basic needs. Still, I’ve never seen a happier family than theirs. The connection, the quality time they spent together was priceless.

Or there was this man who lost a leg at the age of 9 and growing up he won 27 medals in sprint and long jump at the Paralympic Games, World and European Championships. Recently, he also participated in a dance show featuring celebrities performing dance routines.

What is common in these three people (me included)?

That they were able to adapt to their situation and make the most out of it.

“If I only had a job / had money / had a loving spouse…”. Forget it.

Stop looking for happiness outside. See what YOU can do so happiness finds you. Click To Tweet

Unsure how? Here’s a great starting point. Take the 28-day Happiness Challenge. It’s free.

Now it’s your turn: What is happiness for you? What can you do to elevate the positive in your life? Leave a comment below.