Job, money, lover, and just simple personal satisfaction may be tied to personal happiness. For some of us these things may contribute to our happiness. Yet happiness and positive moods are found among a wide range of people having various experiences. It is healthy to be happy. Research has shown that optimist have healthier hearts and live longer. So goes the age old question. “where can I find happiness?”
Sorry, winning the lottery will is not the answer. Studies have shown that having more money than needed for basic needs does not increase personal satisfaction. Lusting to feel good can lead to a hunger for more pleasure which has been called “hedonistic treadmill”. The high of having it all may be elusive and cause more unhappiness then pleasure. The school of Positive Psychology has isolated some attributes which can contribute to happiness.
Consider the following actions to actively engage happiness:
1. Consider simple acts of selfless kindness. Give blood. Visit an ill friend. Be supportive and empathic. Simple acts of random kindness are known to improve mood and feelings of wellbeing.
2. Promote close personal relationships. People with healthy relationships are generally happier and healthier. Acceptance and intimacy go a long way to promote personal well-being in yourself and those close to you. As you make efforts to enhance relationships you are investing in the social glue that brings people together for productive and satisfying interactions. After all, what are friends for?
3. Show gratitude. Express thankfulness to others on a regular basis. Being thankful for minor and important things enhances our appreciation of what we have. It also creates positive bonds with others.
4. Cultivate a rationale to contribute to the general good of society. Doing your work well or joining a civic cause is ways to contribute. Joining and helping a charity can make a difference for you and others. Witness a charity walk. Participants are smiling and having a great time.
5. Be in the moment. Being mindful about interacting with a friend or completing a task will create a sense of well-being. So enjoy daily life by paying attention to what you are doing. Washing dishes or a calm moment in the day can contribute to your wellbeing.
6. Monitor moods. If you are in a positive mood, appreciate it. If your mood is less than happy it is O.K. to accept that mood. By monitoring your moods you will increase awareness of the conditions which promote healthy moods.
7. Exercise. Regular physical exercise has been shown to reduce both anxiety and depression. Any exercise is better than no exercise. Take a walk or simply use the steps rather than elevator.
8. Laugh and be humorous. Laughter reduces stress and will make you and others feel good.
9. Maintain a sense of purpose. Having goals and a belief system enhance personal experiences.
10. Be optimistic. See the glass half full rather than half empty. Search for the good in all situations.
Everyone will apply these approaches to happiness differently. Nevertheless, by making an effort to enhance your personal life experiences by using these techniques can yield satisfying results.
Partially based on “Happiness 101”, by D.T. Max, The New York Times Magazine, January 7, 2007
Want further information: visit: www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/home