In her book “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want,” University of California-Riverside professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky explains how each of us has the ability to attain greater happiness.
According to her research, 50 percent of our happiness is determined by our genetics, but how does our genetics being coded for ADHD affect that percentage?
We are a lot like people without ADHD. Each of us is born with a genetically determined happiness “set point” according to Lyubomirsky. Life circumstances, such as where we live, our marital status, our physical appearance, and our levels of wealth and health, have little bearing on our happiness – only 10 percent!
The good news? Lyubomirsky says the remaining portion of our happiness – 40 percent – is within our control.
Here are 7 different ways you can consciously boost your happiness—and your executive function—for the professional with ADHD.
- Nurture your relationships
It may be due to years of feeling different and not having the success you’d like, but ADDers tend to isolate therefore have few friends. While a strong professional network is vastly important, our personal, face to face connections are just as invaluable. People who maintain five or more close friendships tend to be happier, live longer and have a higher quality of life.
Get your time management under control and schedule in visits with friends and loved ones who accept you just as you are. It’s as important as eating, sleeping and taking planned brain-breaks. The happiest people make a point to nurture their close relationships in person. Pick up the phone, call your best friend, and make a coffee date ASAP.
- Actively pursue your goals
When was the last time you thought about your long-term goals? Goal setting skills is near the top of the most valuable ADHD strategies. According to David Niven, author of “100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life,” those who could identify a goal they were pursuing were 19 percent more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 26 percent more likely to feel positive about themselves. If you have ADHD, it’s imperative to use this strategy.
Take some time today to write down your goals (if you fed-up with the word “goal”, call it something else like “destination”). Then break your goals into smaller, more manageable chunks so you’re less likely to get overwhelmed and discouraged. Help with learning goal setting skills is easier to do with the help of a skilled ADHD career coach.
- Share your skills
According to studies, giving back to the community has the power to boost your happiness and the happiness of those around you. If you have ADHD, you have a lot to offer but it’s important that you know and understand what your strengths are how to not over extend yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you regularly do community service or randomly perform acts of kindness—if you choose your moments wisely. Be sure you have your own proverbial oxygen mask on first, before helping someone else.
Helping others increases your self-confidence and self-esteem and reduces your risk of depression. As an added bonus, volunteering is a great way to boost your job search.
- Let go of resentment
Forgiving and forgetting may be easier said than done, but experts say it’s a necessary step to achieving greater happiness. ADDers are especially prone to ruminating on old insults or injustices. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you’re holding a grudge, you’re also holding on to negative emotions that are standing in the way of your own happiness. When you’re able to let go of your bitterness and embrace forgiveness, you’re freeing up more space for positive emotions.
Begin the healing process by catching yourself ruminating on old history. If you can let it go by getting focused on the present then do, if not, you may want to get an assist from a counsellor or coach.
- Express your gratitude
Saying thank you isn’t just a polite gesture – it’s an essential part of the interview process. However, showing gratitude does more than simply boost your job search, it boosts your dopamine levels because it lifts your emotions. Those who regularly reflect on the things they’re thankful for sleep better, feel more alive and are overall happier.
Make a habit of taking a few minutes each day to consciously consider what you are grateful for and if you can, write down a short list in your agenda. This small task can considerably improve your well-being and life satisfaction.
- Get moving
It’s no surprise that exercise can improve your health, but did you know that it also has the ability to increase your long-term happiness and support better executive function? Studies have found that regular exercise can relieve stress, release those all-important endorphins, boost your immune system and improve your mood. If your crazy workload has usurped your exercise routine, now’s the time to re-jig your schedule. Getting regular exercise is too important to your well-being to sacrifice.
- Stop trying to be someone else
It’s difficult for ambitious people with ADHD to accept the fact that they can’t pretend to be not ADHD and have it work out. The simple truth is that you are who you are and that’s enough. In fact, the moment you begin to accept your unique brain wiring and what that means to you, is likely to be moment you start finding the success that you want. When people try to bully themselves through their ADHD symptoms, without acceptance, then they are at a greater risk for depression due to the increasing pressure they put on themselves.
Regardless of what your “happiness set point” is, ADHD needn’t get in the way of your well-being or your success.