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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

How to Make Yourself Happy

Happiness may be one of the most common and egalitarian of human emotions, but all aren't created equal when it comes to elation.

The work of Harvard’s Dan Gilbert speaks to findings in psychology that reveal that people have about a 50-10-40 ratio for happiness – 50 percent depends on genetic makeup; 10 percent depends on what happens to us throughout the day; and 40 percent is dependent on how we react to those environmental goings-on.

So, why is it some of us are more predisposed than others to see the glass as half empty as opposed to half full?

In this edition of “Two Guys on Your Head,” Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss how self-imposed strategies might give us an edge when it comes to feeling happier.

Turns out, the choices you make can fend off sadness because our brains, bodies, emotions and our actions are so tightly connected.

Exercise, dancing, listening to fast music and having a good conversation all produce endorphin-releasing reactions that imbue external positivity and, in turn, make us feel happier.

Our social groups also influence how we understand and experience happiness. As Dr. Duke points out, finding friends that can mold you into being the best person you can be is a good first step on the road to self-imposed happiness. In turn, being grateful for those friends can be yet another source for happiness. So, being grateful for friends – who help foster positive, meaningful happiness – breeds happiness as well, says Duke.

While, for some, happiness can be a discernibly-set point of view rather than an uncontrollable, unpredictable emotion, keep in mind humans tend to have a set point of happiness, no matter the external events before them.

In a previous show we did on money and happiness, we asked if money can make us happy. Even though things like winning the lottery can make us happy in the moment, six months after the victory a person is likely to return to that baseline level of happiness.

For more on strategies for creating your own happiness, check out the TED Talk with Dan Gilbert below.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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