One way or another many of us are looking for it, that elusive quality called happiness.
But wait….are you unhappy? A sample of questions from Alyss Thomas’ new book The 1000 most important questions you will ever ask yourself might offer some clues.
For example: Are you irrational? Do you project your ideal version of reality onto people and events? Is your life restricted by fear? Do you have a pessimistic attitude about the possibility of getting what you really want?
The questions are starters but for the real thing try the comprehensive happiness quiz from her book (see our Boomerangst section). Thomas, a psychotherapist and author, says that based on new research about happiness, there are specific things we can do to increase our happiness. And there are equally specific things we can do to reduce our chances of being happy. She believes the biggest single determinant of how happy people are as they get older, is being in a good relationship.
“This would imply that it is worth making your relationships a high priority” she says. “…strong relationship satisfaction can offset other factors in life that are linked to unhappiness, such as financial problems”.
The other strong predictor of happiness and well-being according to Thomas is one’s level of education.
Her questionnaire on happiness is based on factors that have emerged in a range of happiness research projects. These have shown that there are certain definable factors that influence people’s reports of whether or not they feel they are happy.
Take money: it makes people happy – to a degree. Being short of it can do the opposite.
“But once people have reached the point of affluence, increased wealth beyond this does not make them any happier” she says. “Feeling fulfilled, valued and able to contribute to your community or society seems to be much more clearly linked with happiness”.
Thomas believes that combined with a lack of positive goals, the inability to accept ourselves, our life or our situation is the factor which creates the most unhappiness.
“In fact, this may be the art of happiness: achieving a state of accepting what you have, while at the same time working towards increased fulfillment in the areas that you can” she says.