The secret of true happiness

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your current level of happiness? It’s easy to hurtle headlong through life setting one goal and then another, believing there will come a point when we will be happy. Sadly when we get there, the way we feel has not significantly changed. Happiness is at the top of most people’s agenda and yet, so often it proves elusive.

If only…

How often have you longed for something, only to find that when you got it, its mood boosting effects were time-limited? Being a bit of a car freak, I remember the day the sports car of my dreams was delivered. In the early days, when I wasn’t driving it, I was looking at it longingly from the window. It did bring me pleasure but I can’t deny that its impact lessened over time, known in the world of psychology as ‘hedonic apdatation‘.

Research has shown that money and material possessions only provide a short term injection of happiness. What’s more, it’s the same for many of the other things we constantly strive for: professional and academic success, beauty, relationships (the honeymoon period is indeed a proven phenomenon!).

A study compared the levels of happiness at the start of the 21st century against those in the 1940’s and the results were quite remarkable: it had actually slightly declined! For all the improvements in living standards, education, health, and the like, there was no significant difference in how happy people felt. The truth is that we search for happiness in places we believe will deliver, but they simply don’t.

The solution lies closer to home

Rather than looking externally for solutions, they actually lie within. Researchers estimate that 40% of our overall happiness is in fact directly under our own control. It comes from things that have more to do with how we choose to exist in the world, our relationships with others, and managing our thoughts and actions. Positive thinking, nurturing social connections, learning how to combat stress and manage negative emotions, investing in our physical health and living mindfully, are all proven to significantly impact on how happy we are. In addition, the effects are much longer lasting.

The simple act of practising gratitude also brings enormous benefits. Whether by keeping a journal, openly giving thanks to others, or simply taking time to reflect on the things for which we are grateful, it works because it forces us to focus on the here and now and all that is good about it. It means that our brains are injected with a rush of positivity from things that would otherwise go unnoticed. Practised consistently, gratitude skilfully manoeuvres us away from the possibility of hedonic adaptation. It saves us from constantly striving for more because the present, quite simply, is enough. In fact, it has a far greater influence on our happiness than any of the things we traditionally strive for.

No time like the present

The recent challenges have forced us to reset our traditional ways of being and doing. They have made us re-evaluate everything in a way we could never have imagined. They have put into context the things that really matter and given us an opportunity to do things differently. Everyone deserves to be happy. We just need to understand that true happiness is to be found in places where we least expect it. Today’s choices make up tomorrow’s reality. There’s no better time to get started!








  1. Sheila Palmer

    Thank you LIndsay. As you know, I really do feel that gratitude is such a powerful phenomenon, which has been proved scientifically as well. As I belong to the Heartmath community and have one of their applications that can measure and prove what happens inside us when we give thanks it is truly fascinating and inspirational to observe. You, your work and your newsletters and blogs are also inspirational and I thank you again.

    • Sounds really interesting Sheila. I know that it has certainly changed lots of things for me. Even when I get grumpy with the chef, if I focus on the things about him that I am grateful for, I find that not only do I feel better, but his behaviour changes!! It’s miraculous! Thanks for your kind words. Life is a journey with so much to learn along the way and it’s nice to be able to share it. x

  2. Corinne

    Reading this on a Monday morning has been such an inspiration Lindsay – keeping everything in perspective has been so very difficult for everyone over the last few months. My desk awaits, but there is so much to be grateful for. Thank you for keeping the wonderful Me Spot tribe going …your classes are joyful (if somewhat exhausting at times ; ) and keeping in touch with the group gives us all such a happy and restorative place to turn to. You are phenomenal, thank you x

    • Thanks for your kind words. When you realise that some of the things you pushed so hard for are not that important after all it is somewhat of a relief I find. The Me Spot group is a tribute to all involved. Such a special and talented group of women with so much to give. Hope you have made it to your desk now!!! Have a good day. x

  3. Joanne Leck

    Thank you once again Lindsay for a truly inspirational Blog. You spoke about what makes one truly happy and having spoken to my dad over the last months, I have to totally agree that it is the small things in this life that truly makes us happy. Dad told me “ All that truly matters to me know is being with my family; forget the fancy meals and holidays , all I want is to be surrounded by my family” It made me think and I have to say I agree !
    Hope you and your family are well. Love your inspirational words- keep them coming!!
    Hope to see you very soon. Love to you x

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