Happiness is not as elusive or complicated as you might think. With a few life-hacks, you can find your happiness.
If you watch the news, read the paper, or surf the internet much, you've probably noticed that the concept of happiness seems to have fallen on hard times. I sincerely hope it's not the case for you. But the cynicism and negativity that seems to have overtaken our society has made me wonder what is happiness, and how is it attained? Confusingly, opinions and studies are all over the map on the subject. I'm going to define happiness as a deep-seated, durable feeling of well-being, contentment, satisfaction, enjoyment, and pleasure. Really, who doesn't want that? I know this: real, lasting happiness is not to be found in a pill, potion, purchase, or cosmetic procedure.
I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and from my studies, I learned that though there are no guarantees, there is a general environment that is more conducive to developing a happy outlook.
1- A close, loving, committed marriage or relationship that you are willing to share and sacrifice for. A strong social network of good friends and trusted associates make life valuable and easier to bear when things get rough. I know from personal experience that it's hard to be happy alone. Foods, music, movies, and sunsets are better when shared.
2- Having sufficient financial means to provide a measure of security and comfort. Too little or too much increases stress. There's an old adage that says, “The richer you get, the more expensive happiness becomes.” There is a danger in always comparing your stuff to what others have. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is difficult because the Joneses don't want to be kept up with. There's real power in knowing when enough is enough. It's an accepted truth that money can't buy happiness, but you need enough to stay fed and sheltered.
3- Successes foster a positive environment for happiness. I'm not talking about receiving the Nobel Peace Prize or an Oscar; just knowing that your contribution to an endeavor is valued and appreciated. Albert Schweitzer said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”
4- Health and well-being, a level of fitness with ample energy, and the ability to get a restful night’s sleep are more inter-connected with happiness than you might think. It's hard to enjoy yourself when you’re in pain and feeling exhausted.
(NOTE: Stay happy and healthy with Sunwarrior's Fitness Challenge. Sign up today for free personalized workouts and meal plans.)
5- Feel forgiveness. Harboring feelings of resentment, bitterness, or ill will against others will canker your outlook. I read a fortune cookie once that stated, “While you are holding a grudge, the other person is out dancing.” Pretty profound counsel from Panda Express. Forgiveness frees your soul.
6- Center your spirituality. Not necessarily in organized religion or church, but faith in a power greater than self, that there is a plan, meaning, and purpose to life, with eternal possibilities, allows comfort and inspiration as well as growth. The comfort of believing that someone or something is in charge is powerful.
7- Remember the good times. An accumulation of positive experiences to create treasured memories that you can draw upon when the going gets tough makes it easier to bear bad times.
On a recent Today show news segment they said that statistically, happiness is 15% where you live, 40% genetics, and 45% personal choices. Denis Wheatley stated, “It cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed.” So, what is it that does make you happy?” There are a number of personality traits that seem to be common to happy people.
They look on the bright side, and watch for the silver lining. During trials and challenges, they know “This too shall pass.” Instead of complaining “Why me?” they thoughtfully acknowledge, “Why not me?”
You can't change the past, and you can only plan and try to prepare for the future, so live in and enjoy the present. They dream, set, work toward, and achieve worthy goals. “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise man grows it under his feet.” - James Oppenheim
Their deeds match their creeds. They live their values; they trust and like themselves.
Attitude of Gratitude
Being grateful is vital. Happy people count their blessings instead of their afflictions.
Sense of Humor
They smile and laugh freely. They don't take themselves too seriously and are secure enough to even laugh at themselves. One key to happiness is to have a good sense of humor and a bad memory.
They stay active, involved, and engaged in their jobs, relationships, and projects. Regular exercise helps flood their body with happy hormones, Endorphins, Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Serotonin.
PBS host, Dan Gilbert, made some interesting observations from what he termed as Happiness Science:
1- We can't be happy alone.
2- We can't be happy all the time.
3- We can be happier than we are currently.
So, as the popular Bob Marley song said, “Don't Worry, Be Happy.”