How happy you are is largely influenced by your values and expectations. People with extrinsic happiness values expect to find happiness outside of themselves in material objects like cars or houses, or something like praise, recognition or status. The people with the highest expectations are most often the most successful, but also have the most disappointments. Those with the lowest expectations have the least success, but fewer disappointments. Happiness involves taking a few risks, but they have to be carefully chosen.

An example of extrinsic values might be Elvis Presley, a man with a lot of talent, success and fame. He had everything except happiness because he expected to find happiness outside of himself. At the other end of the spectrum are children in many third world nations who would be happy to have dinner tonight and a safe, warm place to sleep. Tragically, they have learned not to hope for this most basic of expectations so they do not have to feel the helplessness of disappointment all over again.

In both examples, behavior was adjusted to match where happiness was expected to be. Elvis risked and lost his health, family and life because he expected to find happiness in the thrill of drugs and women, but his expectations were not met. The desperately poor expect to find happiness by avoiding disappointment by continually lowering expectations.

True happiness is based on intrinsic values, or internal factors. These values are the attitudes of accepting the challenge of meeting your own needs and adapting to the challenges of life. Underneath the external things we normally associate with happiness is an emotional need. If this need is satisfied, happiness follows. When you expect to find happiness in emotional satisfaction, not only do your opportunities for happiness increase, but the likelihood of finding happiness also increases.

Researchers at Harvard University have found that the happiest people have full lives that balance quality relationships with others, pleasurable experiences and meaning or purpose in the things they do. The people with happiness values focused on these three things, the intrinsic values, are happier, more balanced and successful.

Placing your happiness outside of yourself puts it into the hands hand of fate and beyond your control. The intrinsic values are completely within your power to control. By focusing on the emotional satisfaction and not objects or praise, opens up more options. For example, someone looking for a satisfying long-term relationship is more likely to find that, than someone focused on a single person as being the only acceptable mate. The expectation is placed on finding a relationship and does not turn over happiness to the choices of another person.

People with intrinsic happiness values are more adaptable, flexible, resilient, creative and social. These are the traits associated with the happiest people. People with intrinsic values take full responsibility for finding happiness and place the expectation for finding it on themselves. They are confident in their ability to eventually find what they are looking for.

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