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Dr. Henry Cloud: The Best Research-based Insights on Increasing Our Happiness

Dr. Henry Cloud has a personal question for you: If you’re not very happy right now, what do you think would make you happy? According to Cloud, if you’re not happy right now, you may be investing in the wrong areas to try to attain the happiness you seek.

His theory, which is the subject of his book “The Law of Happiness,” has to do with current psychological research findings. Over the last 7-10 years, the field of psychology has started to emphasize a new frontier, at the behest of the former President of the APA, Martin Seligman. Seligman said psychology has focused too long on the negative—things like depression, anxiety and addiction. So the APA started studying the field of “positive psychology,” which concerns itself with things like health, wellness, and peoples’ strengths and virtues.

Cloud claims there has been an “enormous body of research” emerge that has produced “robust,” or reliable findings that point to the keys to our happiness. How did you answer that question above? If you’re like most people, you might have thought of something circumstantial (for example, “If I only had my dream job, I’d be happy.”)

This is where the research points to something unconventional: Our happiness is largely dependent on our own life patterns.

Cloud breaks it down this way:

10% comes from anything circumstantial

For example: factors like if you made more money, whether you’re rich or poor, wealthy, etc.

50% comes from our “constitutional makeup”

This is your basic temperament from a young age. Kind of like the way you’re wire, that is influenced by your biological makeup.

40% is under your control

This is a collection of “life practices” which consist of your “thinking patterns, relationships, how you look at certain kinds of spiritual realties—things like gratitude, forgiveness.”

Finally, Cloud concludes with a thought to chew on: “How much are you investing in circumstantial things, like money or fame, that you think will make you happy…How much are you focusing on ‘working on your life?’”