Written by Nikki Cox
Wealth in life can be defined in many ways, and can look very different to every person.
By one definition, wealth is having “a plentiful supply of a particular desirable thing”, and what is desirable to each and every one of us is based on our values in life. My grandmother always said that she was rich because she had thirteen grandchildren. Her family was what she valued most, so this is what she saw as her wealth.
Wealth can also involve a range of things, depending on who you are and where you are in life. These may include money, time, health, attitude, relationships, lifestyle, peace of mind, and any other thing you desire for what you view as a ‘successful life’. However, neuroscience and studies of positive psychology now prove that happiness is a key precursor of success in life because positive emotions experienced as a result of happiness allow you to accomplish more in your life and find fulfilment.
What is Happiness?
Happiness is the end-goal of all human behaviour, and is therefore the measure of true wealth. And because we know that a Happy Mum = Happy Kids, happiness as a mother creates wealth – the plentiful supply of a particular desirable thing that creates success in life - for her family unit.
You've probably heard the saying; “Happiness is a journey, not a destination” and wiser words have not been spoken with regards to living a happier, less-stressful life. The goal is not to become happy, but rather to seek happiness as part of a way of life.
There are many theories on what happiness truly is, and how to achieve it, however the most prominent of these comes from the founder of the positive psychology movement himself, Dr. Martin Seligman. Seligman believes that the pursuit of true happiness in life must have a multifaceted approach. You need to:
- experience and acknowledge positive emotions, and have an optimistic outlook
- fully engage in the various activities of life (work, play, relationships, parenting, etc.)
- have positive, supportive relationships with others that promote love, intimacy, and a strong emotional and physical connection
- seek meaning in life through broader perspectives on worries and issues, and understanding the greater reason behind why you do the things you do every day
- have goals and challenges in life to strive for to reach a sense of accomplishment
By gently reminding yourself every day of the 5 key elements that contribute to happiness in life, you can gradually change the way you live within your world to create greater wealth for both you and your family.
How Much Control Do I Have Over My Happiness?
In addition to understanding what elements in life contribute to our overall happiness, leading researchers in Positive Psychology have concluded that we all have a 'set point' (or where our mind and body like to be) for happiness, much in the same way we have a set point for our body weight. That is, regardless of what we do, and however much we fluctuate – our minds and bodies tend to find their way back to a certain level of happiness, or weight.
Half of your happiness set point is said to be determined by factors that relate to your disposition; that is, your inherent nature to behave or feel in a particular way, which arguably cannot be permanently changed. This has usually been shaped by your heredity, family of origin and life experiences.
Another 10% is determined by your circumstances (e.g., socioeconomic status), and the remaining 40% is determined by your intentional activity or the things you deliberately do to lift your mood and spirits, e.g., exercise, spending time with loved ones, listening to music.
Therefore, while there may not be much we can do about 60% that is out of our control, we can do something about the remaining 40% every, single day. That means you have quite a bit of influence over being happy (and wealthy) in life!
4 Simple Ways to Create a Happiness Spiral
Here are 4 key, scientifically-proven strategies to help increase your overall happiness on a regular basis:
- Actively practice and express gratitude
- Use mindfulness practices to help put labels to your emotions
- Make more not-quite-perfect decisions in your life to regain control and reduce stress
- Physically connect with others (in-person visits or catch-ups, hugs, cuddles, kisses, massage, etc.)
The science of happiness is an ever-growing area of research that has had some significant findings and breakthroughs in the last decade, and there is some inspiring news that has come from this.
Firstly, you have a lot of control over how happy you are and want to be, despite the physical, emotional and social challenges that come with being a busy mum.
And secondly, to live a happy journey through motherhood requires relatively simple, low-effort changes to your lifestyle. The key is to identify the need for change, make it and stick with it until it becomes a habit, and part of the journey.
Now that’s something to be happy about!