The Art and Practice of Happiness

Dr. Keith Witt Lifestyle, Perspectives, Psychology, Video, Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith 2 Comments

According to happiness researcher Sonia Lyubomirsky, 50% of our happiness comes from our genetic heritage (what researchers call our “happiness set point”), 10% from life circumstances, and 40% from decisions we make and activities and perspectives we choose.

We can’t choose our genetics or completely control life circumstances, but that 40% voluntary activities is huge! We can choose to do what it takes to heal and integrate trauma. We can choose to engage in more activities that make us happy. Voluminous research has demonstrated again and again that there are perspectives and actions we can cultivate that tend to raise our happiness levels.

Embodying happiness-increasing practices like performing kind acts and celebrating loved ones victories and triumphs are healing, and also open us up to deeper compassionate understanding and equanimity. Embracing happiness-producing perspectives like an optimistic explanatory style and growth mindsets help us become more joyful and wise. Engaging in kind acts, celebrating loved ones’ victories, and cultivating optimistic explanatory styles and growth mindsets are particularly potent practices and perspectives, but there are lots more!

Here are some more of my favorites:

  • Exercise.
  • Creating and maintaining growth hierarchies rather than dominator hierarchies in social engagements.
  • Learning the principles of forgiveness and practicing them.
  • Eating a healthy diet for our particular type of metabolism and physiology.
  • Connecting with people we respect and enjoy, and maintaining those connections, especially by giving and receiving favors, cultivating regular contact, sharing activities, and celebrating each other.
  • If we have a spouse, cultivating our friendship, love affair, and capacities to resolve injuries and ruptures back to love generates more happiness.

All these activities and perspectives can make us happier. They can help us be more self accepting, self soothing, resilient, and available for positive contact with others.

Happiness: What’s your definition?

Defining happiness can be confusing because it is both a state–at any given moment we feel more or less happy–but also a type. That 50% constitutional contribution to general happiness means some of us are more easily happy, and some of us have to struggle more to be happy.

Whether as a state or a type, lots of people have suggested definitions of happiness. The simplest I’ve found is, “Expect everything to be exactly how it is.”

My personal definition of a happy moment (a state of happiness) is:

  • Experiencing myself as a good person.
  • Being grateful for right now.
  • Being positive about my past, present, and future.
Learn How to Love More Completely

Loving Completely is an absolutely essential addition to your integral library. Get your copy today!

Order now!
Previous  Episodes  of  Witt  &  Wisdom
Love, Conflict, and Play

Love, Conflict, and Play

Perspectives Psychology Video Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith
Keith and Corey talk about how all play is an abstracted version of fighting, and how we can always draw...
Watch Now
The Invisible Audience

The Invisible Audience

Perspectives Psychology Video Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith
Watch as Dr. Keith and Corey have a fascinating discussion about the "Invisible Audience", helping you make these unconscious observers...
Watch Now
Putting the Pieces Back Together

Putting the Pieces Back Together

Perspectives Politics Psychology Video Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith
Corey and Keith discuss the psychological and cultural aftermath of the 2020 Presidential Election, and the integral work ahead of...
Watch Now
+View All
Dr. Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.

Jeff Salzman

About Jeff Salzman

Jeff Salzman worked with Ken Wilber for several years in building the Integral Institute. He is a co-founder of Boulder Integral, the first bricks-and-mortar venue dedicated to the development of integral consciousness. These days Jeff provides integrally-inspired commentary on politics and culture on Integral Life and The Daily Evolver.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for Dhyano Dhyano says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart, Corey.
    I am feeling inspired by the vision you, Keith, and Jesse shared of Maslow Social Democracy.
    Perhaps the next wave in the Ocean of Oneness?
    Dianne Pierson

Continue the discussion at community.integrallife.com

1 more reply

Participants