Happiness Strategy # 1: Don’t Worry, Choose Happy
The first step is to make a conscious choice to boost your happiness.
In short, we may be born with a happiness “set point,” as Lykken calls it but the good news is that we are not stuck there. Happiness also depends on how we manage our emotions and our relationships with others. Jon Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis, teaches positive psychology. He actually assigns his students to make themselves happier during the semester. “They have to say exactly what technique they will use,” says Haidt, a professor at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville. “They may choose to be more forgiving or more grateful. They may learn to identify negative thoughts so they can challenge them. For example, when someone crosses you, in your mind you build a case against that person, but that’s very damaging to relationships. So they may learn to shut up their inner lawyer and stop building these cases against people.”
Once you’ve made the decision to be happier you can choose strategies for achieving happiness. Psychologists who study happiness tend to agree on ones like these.
Happiness Strategy #2: Cultivate Gratitude
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. When you are able to find the gratitude in the smallest things big shifts start to happen. Don’t believe me? Try coming up with 5 gratefuls everyday.
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.” Things might provide a temporary blip of short term euphoria but it’s not one that will last for the long haul.
Happiness Strategy #4: Foster Friendship
There are few better antidotes to unhappiness than close friendships with people who care about you, says David G. Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness. One Australian study found that people over 70 who had the strongest network of friends lived much longer.
“Sadly, our increasingly individualistic society suffers from impoverished social connections, which some psychologists believe is a cause of today’s epidemic levels of depression,” Myers writes. “The social ties that bind also provide support in difficult times.”
Happiness Strategy #5: Engage in Meaningful Activities
People are seldom happier, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, than when they’re in the “flow.” This is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. Yet, he has found that the most common leisure time activity — watching TV — produces some of the lowest levels of happiness.
To get more out of life, we need to put more into it, says Csikszentmihalyi. “Active leisure that helps a person grow does not come easily,” he writes in Finding Flow. “Each of the flow-producing activities requires an initial investment of attention before it begins to be enjoyable.”
So it turns out that happiness can be a matter of choice — not just luck. Some people are lucky enough to possess genes that foster happiness. However, certain thought patterns and interpersonal skills definitely help people become an “epicure of experience,” says David Lykken, whose name, in Norwegian, means “the happiness.” (From Web MD)
So, how are you going to take this information and transfer it into your own life?
Posted on August 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged Authentic Happiness, Csikszentmihalyi, Happiness, Happiness Hypothesis, health, Martin Seligman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, University of Virginia. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.