Can you control happiness?

This month, I’d like to focus on what scientific research suggests controls our happiness from inside.

In July’s column “The relationship to happiness” I wrote to you about main contributing factors to happiness, from an “interests” point of view, and how we use it to help support a happier experience for our senior home care and home support clients.

This month, I’d like to focus on what scientific research suggests controls our happiness from inside. This information comes from a relatively new and modern branch of psychology, called positive psychology, which uses scientific research and intervention to aid in the achievement of a satisfactory life — rather than just treating mental illness.

Interested in how much of your happiness you can actually control? It’s generally accepted nowadays that approximately 50 per cent of a person’s happiness is genetic (and therefore pre-set); 10 per cent of a person’s happiness is based on circumstances that they have little control over (situational); and 40 per cent is due to self-made, intentional activity that an individual chooses and has control over.

Forty percent is HUGE! We control a large portion of our own happiness, and therefore if happiness and life satisfaction are important to you, you should absolutely pay attention to it and be responsible for the outcome. Factors like family issues, children or aging parents (or both!), who we choose as friends, personal relationships, how we choose to react to unwelcome news, finances, work stress, overwhelm, and many, many more factors contribute to that 40 per cent of your intentional activity happiness.

There are a few other key things that come to mind here. We all hear frequently that “what we think about we become”. This common phrase also suggests we have control over our thoughts, emotions and feelings. In addition, practicing positive thinking will further enhance our feelings of life satisfaction.

Also interesting to note are other key research findings:

• Frequency of positive experiences are more important than the intensity of positive experiences

• An individual that experiences daily positive experiences is happier

• Positive emotions include a wide range of feelings, beyond just happiness and joy. Excitement, satisfaction, pride and awe are examples of others — all of which are seen as connected to positive outcomes, such as longer life and healthier social relationships

At Nurse Next Door, we focus on these important findings and use them to improve the quality of care we provide our local seniors — providing so much more than just home support and home care.

Think about the information above and come up with one or two things you can do to positively affect your life satisfaction and chronic happiness. And then there’s the last part — the most important part — doing it.

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For questions or a free in-home caring consult call 250-748-4357, or email