By Jim Owen, Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer, Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership

I’m often asked, “What’s the payoff for integrity?” That’s a topic I touch on in my speeches, and I’ve got several answers. But to me, the most compelling one is that being clear on what you stand for, and living by those beliefs, makes you a happier person – it’s as simple as that. That’s long been my conviction, based on my own observations and experiences. It’s also confirmed by what we hear from those who have articulated their personal set of principles and values in our Standing Tall workshops. They say it’s a good feeling to spend time becoming a better version of yourself.

But my personal belief about what brings true happiness has now been reinforced by science. Summing up 40 years of research by social scientists, a recent New York Times article said happiness derives from three main sources: our genes, which account for about half of our personal happiness quotient; the events in our lives, which have relatively short-lived impact; and finally, our values.

As the article noted, “It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness.” And, unlike our genes or the things that happen to us, the set of values we choose to embrace is the one happiness factor in our control.

To me, this is welcome and timely message for the holidays. It’s a great reminder that what enriches our lives isn’t what’s under the tree, but what’s in our hearts. Together with my cherished wife, Stanya, and the entire Cowboy Ethics team, I wish all of you a holiday warmed by love of family, friends, and humanity. And all the best for a joyous New Year!