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The Science of Happiness

By: Tia Graham


Tia Graham has a mission... to inspire transformation through the science of happiness. She relies upon science-based empirical data. Happily, I share some of highlights from her presentation. 


Interestingly, even as a little girl, despite being very blessed with love surrounding me, I found the subject of happiness intriguing, even seeking out books on the subject. Ms. Graham truly believes that happiness is the key to living a more meaningful and longer life.


At the onset, she shared some incredibly challenging times in her life that provided the back drop for her eventual “deep dive” into the importance of happiness, a subject that is only gaining more and more respect in today’s world. Psychologists are even more seriously delving into the power of “positive psychology.” Imagine! Happiness classes are some of the most popular classes at Harvard! Do you know that CNN has a Weekly Positive News site? Kudos to CNN! 

  • She began having us reflect upon ourselves as young children. Remember how "in the moment" we were, so totally absorbed...those days of spontaneous joy? She reminded that each of us has this secret weapon inside ourselves, that may be called upon every day to achieve/create the most successful life possible. Then she provided ways to nurture this inborn, deepest desire. 

  • She was careful to note that Happiness is not the absence of stress and pain, that these feelings are a part of our lives. The hope is to learn from these challenging times. They are here to teach us something. At such times it’s especially important to try to get outside ourselves to gain more perspective and balance. Here, she discusses the idea of Re-Framing.

  • Stress can be positive, helping us to work and make decisions and much more, but prolonged stress, day after day, can be harmful. It’s at these times when Re-Framing is incredibly helpful...e.g. connecting with nature; exercise; music, sleep; a good book because Recovery Time is really important. So let’s be extra aware when we are experiencing extreme stress: e.g. illness; death of a loved one; divorce; moving; severe financial concerns. This idea of mindfully incorporating such practices goes a long way towards regaining balance. 

  • We need to give ourselves permission to be human and feed ourselves a healthy dose of self-compassion. This idea of “time outs” to take care of ourselves (whatever brings us more peace and calm) is not selfish. Indeed, it is quite the opposite. All of our actions affect those around us, whether we’re aware or not. We know the contagion of unhappiness. Happiness is the flip side... it uplifts. 

  • Have you ever wondered how much of our happiness is simply due to Heredity? Indeed, 50% of happiness is our DNA, so we still have a lot with which to work. 40% is affected by our Micro Choices (rituals, mindset, behaviors, etc.) and only 10% on Circumstances. So, she strongly suggests that each day we take in the positive and make this a priority because we are constantly making choices. We uplift the world when these choices are coming from a place of joy and light. 

  • So interestingly, because we are programmed to intensely absorb negativity, arising from our “fight or flight” instinct, we need to take in 4x the positive to offset all the absorbed negativity. I found this fascinating! To this end, she mindfully does her best to Find More Fun, More Lightness and Joyous Excitement every day to nurture that little person in all of us who loves to laugh and “be in the moment.” 

  • Here are some Positive Boosters: Gratitude; Movement; Giving; Journaling; Sleep; Hugs; Connect-ness to others; Primers (those little Post-its we may stick around the house to be motivating reminders and inspiration.) 


Ms. Graham closes with this very thoughtful quote: Believe in ourselves, give attention and use intuition towards the cultivation of happiness to make our lives all they were meant to be. 


Good luck! The cultivation of HAPPINESS is powerful and indeed we are all incredibly deserving. 

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