Happiness Set Point

jumpThere is an idea in psychology that we all have something called a happiness set point. A happiness set point is a term used to describe our general level of happiness, and it is unique to each of us. We all have different set points, and it is possible that some people, who seem to be happier than others, have naturally higher happiness set points.

Where does our happiness set point come from? 

Your happiness set point partly comes from your genes. It also comes from our upbringing and personality traits that we develop when we are young and stay with us throughout our lives.

Does our set point change?   

Yes, but only temporarily. In general, our happiness set point has the ability to increase around positive (such as winning the lottery) and negative (you do not perform well on an exam) events. However, eventually our happiness will return to our natural set point (with the exception of a few life events). In fact, research has shown that “lottery winners and those who have undergone extreme hardship due to a health crisis or accident, within a year or so to return to the level of happiness they had prior to their life change.” Basically if something good happens, your sense of happiness rises; if something bad happens; it falls. However, eventually it all returns back to baseline.

Can I do anything about my happiness set point?

Yes! There is a way to choose to become a happier person. Huffington Post put out nine suggestions for taking control over your own happiness:

  1. Simply try.
  2. Make happiness your number-one goal.
  3. Linger on those little, positive moments.
  4. Choose mindfulness.
  5. Smile your way to happiness.
  6. Practice gratitude.
  7. Pursue happiness, find happiness – and success.
  8. Let yourself be happy.
  9. Practice compassion.

However, these are just suggestions. There are lots of other ways things you can try to raise the set point of your happiness.


What are other ways you might be able to raise your happiness set point? Try these out for a while and let us know if you notice any results!

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Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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