The Psychology Of Happiness: Is Your Level Of Happiness Predestined?

Can astrology help you be happier?

Sonja Lyubomirsky Ph.D. Professor at Stanford University and happiness guru

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The Psychology Of Happiness: Is Your Level Of Happiness Predestined? — 29 Comments

  1. I’ve always agreed with the quote by Lincoln that people are just as happy as they make up their minds to be. I think we are born with a tendency to either be satisfied, and thus happy or not, thus unhappy. As a happy person I have problems understanding how some people can just never be satisfied. They, in return, tell me there can’t be an upside to EVERYTHING. Still, sometimes after life hands you some lemons and you make that proverbial lemonade you realize happiness is really a choice and nobody can make me happy or unhappy – I can only do that for myself. So can I be happier? I know I can because I am much happier at this point in my life than I was as a young person. And it isn’t because life is only giving me good things. It’s because I can now appreciate the good things I used to feel I deserved just for being alive. Maturity brings much contentment.

  2. where would you go looking for the energetics of happiness in a chart? jupiter? venus? the moon?
    is it not how you’re using what you have?

    i have to agree that my perspective on anything is the overriding factor in how it affects my state of mind. not the event but how i work with it. it’s really all in the head… but figuring out where i need to place my mind to feel better can get tricky.

  3. One thing I learned from astrology and which psychology is in constant debate about, is the cause-effect thing… which came first, the chicken or the egg. Why is someone’s personality the way it is, is it the environment or the genes, or both? astrology says it’s all the same thing. one reflects the other. you’re the only one that can really change your reality, by changing where you focus your thoughts and attention. jupiter people focus on the positive and are happy. I think that’s the only secret. I know a few people who were miserable half their lifes until they decided it was enough, and started to be happy no matter what. and that’s how they did it, focusing on good things and not taking life too seriously.

  4. Yes. Maybe we start by telling happier stories to ourselves about our lives and us as people, it all starts in the colour of the glasses we’re wearing…

  5. Viv, I think you hit it when you said, “… not taking life too seriously.” Cheeze knows I became lots happier when I allowed myself to be silly once in a while!

  6. I suppose it makes sense…I’m rarely Perky and Happy!, don’t pull that off most of the time, but am also not 100% depressed. I float around in the neutral middle. I guess that’s pretty fixed.

  7. “One thing I learned from astrology and which psychology is in constant debate about, is the cause-effect thing… which came first, the chicken or the egg. Why is someone’s personality the way it is, is it the environment or the genes, or both?”

    Oh yeah, Viv. Psychology is definitely all caught up in that. I keep thinking about it too.

    As to gratitude, it’s funny, when I was in the Art of Living ashram, the guru talked a lot about gratitude and how it makes you happy. I don’t quite remember, but he talked about the chakras and how they have positive and negative emotions connected to them. Gratitude was the positive emotion for the throat, the negative one was I think sadness or melancholy.

    I don’t quite agree that there is a ceiling to our happiness. There are, after all, different types of positive emotions. Like delight or excitement, which is a kind of pixie stick happiness I feel when preparing to go out. Or when I am walking and hear the music and noise of a party, I’m like a cartoon character following the scent of pie (Gemini). I don’t know, I’m not sure. This is a really interesting question. I’ll have to think more about it.

    Also, I think perkiness is an outward attitude. Some people think it’s a virtue and a strength to always seem happy nevermind what your problems are. As a result, they put it on. I think that kind of fortitude is crap, you don’t weigh others down that much if you tell them how you actually are. Particularly if they care. For some people, it’s not wise to hold bad emotions in.

  8. That is interesting research saying that there is a baseline to which we all tend to return. Makes me think of the ‘natal promise’ of the chart, so like, transits and progressions happen, and events which may cause despair and suffering, and vice versa, sublime joy, but then the person ends up back around their baseline. Makes sense, astrologically.

    I don’t study happiness in charts per se, but I am studying suicide. I have a couple hundred charts of people who could not stand to live much beyond their thirties, often much younger. Of course I am finding that there is never one astrological variable, and this theme of despair to the point of suicide is seen at least several times/ways in the natal chart, and usually more than several.

    I am seeing themes however, and closer every day to publishing my findings, probably on line. I have to make sure that I can try to be helpful to people, so that is kind of an ethical challenge, you know?

  9. Wyrdling, I agree with what you said.

    I have trouble staying happy, although with my Pisces Ascendant, I think a lot of people Imagine I am always happy.

    I wonder if there are any night owls out there that can relate with me on this:

    I have definitely noticed that the sky falls in at night. In other words, when I am up late, (say…12:30 or later) any bad situation seems absolutely Terrible! During the day though, it’s just bad. Things seem worse to me very late at night.

    Am I alone in this?

  10. I have a problem where it’s like a special curse … I am not able to intellectually understand what makes me happy. I find it by accident.

    I have friend who have told me that – what I’m telling them is what I need to be happy directly contradicts, who I am. And I have no idea. I think, they are so crazy.

    And then the thing they predicted that would make me happy, based on how I act happens, and inexplicably, I’m suddenly happy.

    The very sad thing about is – it makes it damn hard to plan how to make yourself happy.

    Most happy moments seem to come to me like a particularly good game of “sloppy pool” where I was playing, and aiming in one pocket, but got one or more balls in another. And maybe even won a game! But not the one I was aiming for.

    Makes me wonder if this ties to my venus square neptune somehow – seeing as it seems to be about “things clouded over” as related to things that please you.

  11. I just happened to pick this book up about a week ago. I am still reading it

    There’s nothing new under the sun. And of the making of books there is no end…

    I’m happy. Except when I’m not. What else is there? We train our “happiness muscles” like a bicep? Perhaps. We’ll see.

    I really get what you are saying Althera. Neptune stuff too.

  12. Snapdragon said “definitely noticed that the sky falls in at night.”
    My version of this is the 3 a.m. wake up – where something I would not worry about during the day at all pops into my head and seems a dreadful disaster at night. Then the next morning, I’m shaking my head at my silliness! I don’t know what it is about those hours of the night, but I usually sleep right thru them, thank goodness.

    For me, happiness does come from gratitude, and I have a list of things I’m grateful for that I read every day. But it also came, or increased, when I got very “real” with myself about what makes me happy and what is my “ideal” life. And it did require giving up on some societal markers of happiness/success and it requires a constant recommitment to that in the face of continued societal pressures. And it took several years to get my life in line with that and to accept that there are some things about me that some people aren’t going to find “admirable” or “sympathetic” and while I can try to work on them, I’m not going to be able to change the fundamental “me.” But boy am I happier. As a matter of fact, I’m really pretty ding-dang happy. Heh.

  13. I am always happy (serene) and especially happy lately. I have basically been happy since the 10/8/00 no matter how terrible things have gotten…right now they have gotten great for me…but this too shall pass and I will still be happy either way.

    I feel tremendous compassion for anyone who is not happy (serene) all the time, no matter what life brings. I pray for their Enlightenment and it pains me to watch others suffer, even though I am pretty much always happy (serene), that is no reason to gloat, because prior to 2000 I had a lot of ups and downs myself.

  14. Interesting comment Snapdragon, about the night, and since we both share Pisces rising, but I am the total opposite. I love the nighttime.

  15. Is my own level of happiness predestined? Too some extent, yes. My own setting for happiness seems to be quite high. I bounce back from setbacks or lows quite rapidly. Remembering humour and to not take myself so seriously is helpful. Gratitude is definitely an important factor. This comes into play even more when I am experiencing challenges.

  16. I think it is important to allow yourself the happiness you CAN have.

    I have a grand earth trine: ascendant, moon, and jupiter, that I think keeps me grounded and happy overall.

    some of my other placements can run me into trouble, I can be passionate, hot headed, over optimistic.. mars/merc. lots of uranus, and neptune in the seventh, which can lead to broken hearted, and out on limb crazy situations, but in the end, I don’t want life without adventure, and I’ve got to take the salty with the sweet.

    I am trying to take my life seriously and incorporate things that please me without feeling selfish. Hard work (believe it or not) but worth doing.

  17. Don’t get me wrong, Loons, I love the night too – I am a total night owl! It’s just that if there is anything that I am worrying about (when isn’t there?!!) than it seems worse at night. (Boy, I sure feel that Pisces Asc. in so many different ways, all the time!)

    Btw Loons, what changed on that date?

    Good comments here.

  18. Hey snapdragon! Long time! Anyway, my worries and everything else are always more bothersome in the morning, like right after waking up (not a morning person) and on Wednesdays (mercury most afflicted planet in my chart). But Friday, woo, get out the happy hats (I have a good Venus) and Thursday, maybe even better (my Jupiter placement is my favorite)! It was interesting to live in an ashram for 6 months were we did the samething every day, no weekends. It was cool.

    What changed on that date? Everything. That is the date I got Enlightened.

  19. i don’t believe in “happiness” – i found lightness in my melancholy & am “HAPPY” with being SAD…

    i’m a night owl & i feel most comfortable in the darkness — i don’t think a lot of people are meant to be “happy” & should just embrace their melancholic selves.

  20. Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, wrote a book called Stumbling on Happiness in which he lays out just how poorly we predict what will make us happy. It’s a quick read, but you can also check out his lectures on this topic at:

    and

    Another psychologist, Barry Schwartz, talks about the “paradox of choice,” in which too much choice makes us miserable: Especially fun for Libras.

    (I highly recommend TedTalks in general as well, so if you have the time, choose one or two others on whatever subject you’re interested in to get a feel for what else is on offer.)

  21. Elsa! Great video post. Thank you so much for this.

    Happiness does come from inside, no matter what. I really need to live this truth…every reminder is a blessing.

    peace,

    Lola

  22. When I first went to see an astrologer, one of the first things he said was: “You’re always worried something’s going to go wrong, or it’s going to break. It’s not. And even if it is, you can fix it. Stop that useless worrying”. I trusted him, and believed him, and he was right. And, as my worrying faded away, it gave happiness a chance to get more of a look-in. Knowing a lot more about astrology now, I see it as the manual we need to live – we’re born without it, but with any luck we discover it along the way. And though it might not be precise, astrology does increase happiness by reducing fear and worry, as it shines a bright light on the subject and on the way ahead.

  23. I’ve experienced one state of complete euphoria but then that got to bleep afterwards. Of course there were moments of joy and genuine belly holding laughter but I think content is a better state for me. I will make myself miserable in trying to ‘be happy’. But content, grateful that’s the bear’s honey.

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