The Pursuit of Happy-ness!

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There has been much talk in recent times about happiness and how we can all strive to be happier. Even the Dalai Lama wrote a book about it! I read once that when you strip back all goals (i.e. to be wealthier, have better relationships, more career success, etc…) the ultimate goal is always to be happier, because we believe that achieving those things will make us happier. Well, this may or may not be the case. Is it really true that wealthy people are happier? Is it true that achieving a career goal makes you happier? The research suggests that these people are not necessarily happier.

What if then we just make our goal happiness? The good news is that there are a myriad of simple things that you can do to be happier. The catch is that one needs to exercise consistency and discipline in practicing these ‘happiness boosters’. It’s a little like going to the gym – the more you lift weights the more muscle you build over time. The same is true with happiness – the more you practice, the more you will build resilience and a positive mindset which can lead to great levels of happiness.

Below is a list of practical exercises you can try for 30 days. Sound easy? Try the 30 day challenge with your family and friends to keep each other motivated and compare notes at the end of the 30 days.

 

11 Ways you can be happier:

 

1. Practice Positive thinking & Optimism.

  • Smile even when you don’t feel like it (It sounds simple, but it works).
  • Happy people see possibilities, opportunities, and success. Even if you weren’t born looking at the glass as half-full, with practice, a positive outlook can become a habit.

 

2. Be Grateful for what you have.

  • Say thank you like you mean it.
  • People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals

(Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness and lower on depression — and the effect lasts for weeks).

 

3. Practice Mindfulness.

  • Savour life’s moments (really enjoying that ice cream, watch children play, etc…).
  • Stop and smell the roses.

 

4. Practice Acts of Kindness.

  • Helping can enhance feelings of joyfulness, optimism, emotional resilience and encourages greater self worth.

 

5. Devote time to family and friends and nurture and enjoy those relationships.

  • Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive relationships.
  • We don’t just need relationships (shallow acquaintances); we need close ones that involve understanding and caring.

 

6. Make physical exercise a weekly and sometimes daily habit.

  • Studies show that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expenses.
  • Other research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem.

 

7. Be committed to a life-long goal and ambition/have meaningful goals.

  • People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new language or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations.
  • Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning.
  • At work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable.

 

8. Put Money Low on the List

  • People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. This holds true across nations and cultures.
  • The more we seek satisfaction in material goods, the less we find them there. This type of satisfaction is very fleeting.
  • Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualisation.

 

9. Take Initiative at Work

  • How happy you are at work depends in part on how much initiative you take.
  • When we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.

 

10. Be Altruistic!

  • Helping a neighbour, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high”.
  • Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating the successes of others, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness.
  • Research has found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.

 

11. Avoid Comparisons

  • Comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction.

 

So good luck on your happiness journey, and remember happiness is a journey – it’s not a destination.

 

Written by Maria Mercuri

Director and Principal Psychologist

New View Psychology

1 Comment

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