In the book, The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor, tells us that “90% of our long term happiness is predicted not by the external world but by the way our brains process the world.” If we change our understanding of the link between happiness and success, we can change our formula for living a more fulfilled life.

What you focus on grows. When we shift our thinking away from the mindset that happiness is something that happens to a lucky few, and instead we see it as a choice that we can make, we will realize that we can take deliberate steps to increase our positive emotions. We can be happy in spite of our circumstances. Happiness is a choice and we have the right to choose it every day.

In fact, positive emotions of all kind, hope, kindness, gratitude, faith, help you to be more productive. If you can find a way to get your brain into a more positive way of thinking, you will find yourself becoming more productive and your work will be more enjoyable and rewarding.

To improve your level of emotional well-being, there are some specific steps that you can choose to take. These include:

1. Make the decision to be happy.

The human brain is a powerful instrument. It is the one thing in our lives that really helps us to determine whether or not we will do what we say we will do. Therefore, we have the power to decide to be happy. We can choose to focus on the positive side of things. We can choose also to ignore those things that would decrease our sense of happiness. Therefore, building happiness starts with making the decision to be happy.

2. Take action to manage your happiness

Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky author of “The How of Happiness,” and “The Myths of Happiness,” and a psychology professor at the University of California, has shared some of the findings from her extensive studies on happiness. She has confirmed that we all have a ‘happiness set point’. She explains that this set point is partly encoded in our genes.

Our sense of happiness rises and falls depending on our experiences and our responses to them. So right away, we have some insight into what we can do to improve our levels of happiness. We always have control over our responses.

However, our level of happiness, no matter how high it rises or how far it drops, generally creeps back to its set point. This phenomenon is referred to in science as “hedonic adaptation”. No matter how excited we are when we first encounter something or have an amazing experience, we eventually adapt to it. As a result, our feelings about the experience or event eventually decreases. The same thing happens when our mood plummets. The effect diminishes with each successive experience of the phenomenon or person.

On the whole, human beings are adaptable and the adaptation can happen quickly or over an extended time period. However, it always happens unless we take deliberate actions to counteract the effect.

Fortunately, the higher your happiness level the more likely you are to be able to bounce back from disappointment, disaster or failure. You can take steps to increase your feelings of happiness in spite of your set point or the circumstances of your current situation.

 3. Create moments of joy

Each day, do at least one thing that brings you joy. This will vary from one person to the next. For some, it could be going outside to take a walk, or soaking in a bubble bath, or reading a good book, listening to the music you love, or spending an afternoon in wonderful conversation with people whose company you enjoy.

 4. Find more moments of laughter

We have all heard the old adage that laughter is good for the soul. Doctors have also found that it is good for the body. There are extreme cases where patients with life threatening illnesses have recovered by including laughter sessions into their treatment regimens. For the average person who may be facing smaller challenges on a daily basis, it is also possible to benefit from the effects of practicing laughter in an organized way.

 Finding little things to laugh at raises your sense of well-being. This helps you to be more optimistic and more hopeful for positive future outcomes. This therefore gives you the energy to take on your challenging assignments, whether at work or in your personal life. It also puts you in a better mindset for dealing with the potential challenges that might be involved.

Having that positive mindset influences the choices that we make and helps us to make better decisions. This naturally encourages us to be more willing to move forward with achieving our dreams.

This is taken from the Happiness Handbook. A downloadable e-book written by Marjorie Wharton.

Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach who works with individuals and organizations to help them improve their performance. She is based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados. Follow her on LinkedIn, Instagram or For more of her writing visit For more on her coaching programme, visit the company website for Breakthrough Performance Coaching at