We all want to be “happy” but what does that actually mean and what can we do in our daily lives to be happier? Fortunately, researchers have begun to understand what really helps us to be happier and more resilient to life's challenges.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, a researcher in the field of positive psychology, describes happiness in her 2007 book, The How of Happiness, as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
How to find happiness
According to Mayoclinic.org “Only a small percentage of the variation in people's reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. It appears that the bulk of what determines happiness is due to personality and—more importantly—thoughts and behaviors that can be changed.”
The good news is that your actions and thoughts can influence your level of happiness. Below are practical activities drawn from scientific studies. Note that all of these take regular practice to be effective:
Gratitude is an attitude – a sense of wonder and appreciation for the gifts in your life. Research shows that practicing gratitude can make you healthier and happier. Focusing on blessings can help ward off depression and build resilience in times of stress and grief.
Here are some techniques to help you to build your sense of gratitude:
Our connection with other people is basic to our happiness. Meaningful relationships boost happiness, cognitive abilities and health.
Compassion is a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for other people's suffering and a desire to help.
Research shows that we are born with an inherent sense of compassion that is essential for bonding and connecting with others.
Giving or receiving compassion helps you enjoy better mental and physical health.
Here are some techniques to enhance your compassion:
Feeling a sense of purpose
Studies show that having a sense of purpose enhances happiness.
Living in the moment or mindfulness
· Focus on the present moment. When not in the present, the mind wanders and tends to ruminate on negative thoughts.
· Accept your emotions. It is vital to have an emotional balance. One cannot experience happiness at the expense of avoiding other important emotions, such as fear, sadness, anger or guilt. Accepting these emotions as a part of life help us live a healthier emotional life.
· Look for opportunities to savor the pleasures of everyday life.
· Spend time in nature.
Invest in your happiness today by trying at least one of the techniques. Comment below to let others know how these techniques work for you.