Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment

The roots of happiness

How happy we are is determined by three factors:  genetics, circumstances, and how we think and act.

Temperament – a genetic tendency to respond to the world in a particular way – accounts for about 50% of our happiness.  Some of us are born with a “sunny” disposition; others of us are more “sullen.”  A sunny disposition is a gift.  But people who are predisposed to moodiness or sullenness aren’t doomed – they can learn and practice happiness habits every day to offset their predisposition.

It comes as a surprise to many people but life circumstances – where we live, how much money we have, how healthy we are – account for only about 10% of our happiness.  It’s true that moving into a new or larger house, getting a new car or a better job will make us happy, but only for a short period of time.  Any change quickly becomes the new normal.  A new house becomes the place you live, and a paycheque is just a paycheque.  And we adjust our expectations to the new normal. 


Happiness has more to do with meaning, relationships and experience that money or material goods.  If you need convincing, just look at some photos or think back to good times with friends or family.  Even though many years have passed, you may still feel a range of positive emotions as you recall these goods times.

If 50% of happiness is due to genetics and 10% is due to circumstances, that leaves 40% that we have some control over.  We can influence our happiness by the way we think and how we act.   To learn more check out the information on Flourishing.

Learn more