Everyone aspires to the greatest goal in life: to achieve true happiness. But most people are simply not happy, they just don’t achieve it. The choice you make today will impact the way you feel mentally and physically: choose happiness. Are you happy right now with your life, work and your relationship?
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett
–The kinds of happy lives
Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that while 60 percent of happiness is determined by your genetics and environment, the remaining 40 percent is up to you. In his 2004 Ted Talk, Seligman describes three different kinds of happy lives: The pleasant life, in which you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can, the life of engagement, where you find a life in your work, parenting, love and leisure and the meaningful life, which “consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are.” According to him the pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution to a lasting fulfillment.
–Joy is contagious.
Researchers of the Framingham Heart Study who investigated the spread of happiness over 20 years found that those who are surrounded by happy people “are more likely to become happy in the future.” This is reason enough to dump the Debbie Downers and spend more time with uplifting people.
–Science-based ways to be happier from Belle Beth Cooper, Content Crafter at Buffer.
Sleep more: You’ll be less sensitive to negative emotions
We know that sleep helps our body recover from the day and repair itself and that it helps us focus and be more productive. It turns out sleep is also important for happiness.
In NutureShock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman explain how sleep affects positivity:
Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories gets processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories yet recall gloomy memories just fine.
In one experiment by Walker, sleep-deprived college students tried to memorize a list of words. They could remember 81% of the words with a negative connotation, like “cancer.” But they could remember only 31% of the words with a positive or neutral connotation, like “sunshine” or “basket.”
The BPS Research Digest explores another study that proves sleep affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. Using a facial recognition task throughout the course of a day, researchers studied how sensitive participants were to positive and negative emotions. Those who worked through the afternoon without taking a nap became more sensitive to negative emotions like fear and anger.
–Kate Bratskeir of Huffington Post on habits of happy people.
Forget small talks, focus on deeper conversations
Sitting down to talk about what makes you tick is a prime practice for feeling good about life.A study published in Psychological Science found that those who take part in more substantive conversation and less trivial chit chat experienced more feelings of satisfaction.
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings,” is one of the top five regrets of the dying – a sentiment that hints at the fact that people wish they’d spent less time talking about the weather and more time delving into what it is that makes their heart swell.
Laughter is still the best medicine
In the case of The Blues, this may hold some truth. A good, old-fashioned chuckle releases happy brain chemicals that, other than providing the exuberant buzz we seek, make humans better equipped to tolerate both pain and stress.
And you might be able to get away with counting a joke-swapping session as a workout (maybe). “The body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise,” explained Dr. Lee Berk, the lead researcher of a 2010 study focused on laughter’s effects on the body. The same study found that some of the benefits associated with working out, like a healthy immune system, controlled appetite and improved cholesterol can also be achieved through laughter.
In his book, Authentic Happiness, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman encourages readers to perform a daily “gratitude exercise.” It involves listing a few things that make them grateful. This shifts people away from bitterness and despair, he says, and promotes happiness.
Remember, money can’t buy happiness
Research shows that once income climbs above the poverty level, more money brings very little extra happiness. Yet, “we keep assuming that because things aren’t bringing us happiness, they’re the wrong things, rather than recognizing that the pursuit itself is futile,” writes Daniel Gilbert in his book, Stumbling on Happiness. “Regardless of what we achieve in the pursuit of stuff, it’s never going to bring about an enduring state of happiness.”
–Jeff Haden of Likehacker on what not to do to be happier.
Stop doing these things right now
Stop the blame game: Taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others is empowering—because then you focus on doing things better or smarter next time. And when you get better or smarter, you also get happier.
Don’t try to impress everybody: Genuine relationships make you happier, and you’ll only form genuine relationships when you stop trying to impress and start trying to just be yourself.
Whining makes you feel worse: our words have power, especially over you. Whining about your problems makes you feel worse, not better. If something is wrong, don’t waste time complaining. Put that effort into making the situation better.
Don’t let your fears hold you back: We’re all afraid: of what might or might not happen, of what we can’t change, or what we won’t be able to do, or how other people might perceive us.Whatever you’ve been planning, whatever you’ve imagined, whatever you’ve dreamed of, get started on it today. Do something. Do anything. Otherwise, today is gone. Once tomorrow comes, today is lost forever.
“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ― Guillaume Apollinaire