How to be Happy
Have you noticed how some people just seem to be happier than others, even though they have many of the same problems and challenges? Although the meaning of happiness varies from person to person and from culture to culture, all human beings have the capacity to be happy.
Tips and tools you can use
In the same way that our brains develop learning patterns, we can also train ourselves to experience gratitude, resilience, optimism and meaning more easily. Here are some tips to help you experience these feelings more readily:
- Every day write down three things that went well and why they went well.
- Plan a list of enjoyable things you would like to do more often. Schedule them into your calendar and commit to follow through with them.
- Make a list of people who make you happy and plan to spend more time with them. If some of these people are now far away from you, plan how you can be in touch with them more often or more effectively. In addition to email and phone calls, consider whether occasional audio or web chats would add more value to your communications.
- Consider your personal growth goals and make a commitment to ongoing learning and developing new skills.
- Endeavour to perform every task to the best of your ability.
- Get physically active. Exercise releases endorphins, which leads to a sense of wellbeing. Whether it’s in a club, on your own, indoors or outdoors, there are lots of ways to get active. Pick something you are most likely to enjoy and to commit to over time.
- Begin ‘positive self-talk’.
- Find meaning in your life, whether that is being part of a faith community, volunteering, or developing your virtues.
- Set realistic goals. Start with one positive goal for each day. Think about what you can do to change or prevent negative experiences from happening again.
- Reflect on whether you are trying to do too much. If you find that you are going through the day without taking the time or finding the energy to think about what you are doing and about happiness, ask yourself, “how can I change?”
Resilience and optimism alone have been shown to reduce our annual chance of dying by 20 percent.
- Every day, write down a few things for which you are deeply grateful.
- Try not limit your thinking to the extreme terms, “never”, “always”, “everything”, and “nothing”. Building resilience and optimism is important. Don’t be scared to fail and always “try, try again”.
- Learn from children, for whom a pretty stone or shell can be a precious treasure.
- Appreciate life. Enjoy the rain; it will be hot and sunny again soon enough. Identify a role model for yourself—alive, deceased, famous, not famous, real or fictional. Someone you admire and who seems to have achieved the goals or the attitude you strive for. When in doubt, ask yourself what your role model would do or say in the same circumstance.
- Commit to looking for both big and small events/circumstances that are positive. This will give you the strength to tackle the negative.
The power of laughter
- Remember that, like exercise, laughter releases endorphins.
- Start by exercising your smiling muscles. Put on a smile at least once a day.
- Share humour and joy with family and friends.
- Broaden your horizons, try something new and don’t take it too seriously if you fail. It’s okay to sing off key, fall off your bike, or make a funny painting.
Time for yourself
Make time just for yourself every day. Be mindful of your attitudes and experiences. When it comes to taking time for you, it’s not always quantity that counts, but quality. There are many ways to create quality time including:
- Meditating and reflecting.
- Making or listening to music.
- Gardening (indoor or outdoor).
- Taking physical care, such as grooming. yourself, cleaning, or exercising.
- Seeking a positive environment, such as being in nature, enjoying the company of good friends or listening to those who inspire you.
- Preparing good food, getting a massage for weary muscles and a weary brain, or buying a present for yourself.
Time for others
Keeping up relationships with people with people you have known is also important. Here are some ways to show your appreciation of others:
- Recognise people as individuals, not just as part of a group or family.
Be prepared to practise forgiveness
- Meet with someone you haven’t seen in a while.
- Connect with an aging or ill relative or friend.
- Help someone by looking after their children so they have time to themselves.
- Contribute to a worthy cause.
Helping others often creates positive feelings and brings meaning to our lives. Building and maintaining meaningful relationships is important for emotional wellbeing. With little effort it is possible to experience more gratitude, resilience, optimism, meaning – and therefore happiness – in our lives.
How Happiness Impacts Health
Happiness is good. It provides us with a sense of optimism, a “take on the world” attitude and a positivity that can be infectious. According to a recent study, everyone attempts to find happiness in three ways: Doing good for others; doing things you’re good at; and doing things that are good for you. Moreover, those who are the most optimistic, are the happiest overall.
And the research doesn’t stop there: happiness is closely tied to being happy with your job, your closest relationships and taking care of yourself physically and emotionally.
Effects on Your Health
For most people, happiness is a sense of purpose and well-being. This positive attitude translates to a variety of effects on a person’s health both physically and mentally, including:
- Opening a person’s mind to positivity: Optimism and vitality are critical to a person’s well-being.
- Improving a person’s problem-solving ability: Positive-minded individuals believe they “can” and want to achieve their goals.
- Building physical, intellectual and social resources: This allows people to learn better because they seek other positive-minded people.
- Protecting your health: Happiness lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease, lowers your blood pressure, enables better sleep, improves your diet, allows you to maintain a normal body weight through regular exercise and reduces stress.
Ways to Improve Your Well-Being
According to some research, well-being can be learned by practicing the following:
- Resilience, a function of the brain, resides in the ability to bounce back from adversity.
- Positive outlook lies in a person’s ability to see the positive, both in people and in experiences.
- Attention, or a lack of, can affect a person’s well-being. Being more attentive and using better listening skills can make a person more focused and positive.
- Generosity equals a sense of well-being. Acts of kindness make others and yourself happy.
Your own well-being shouldn’t be mysterious. Know what works for you and what doesn’t, and remove the barriers that are preventing your happiness. Be content with your life choices. Your health and well-being are dependent on it.
Scientific evidence suggests that being happy may have major benefits for your health. For starters, being happy promotes a healthy lifestyle. It may also help combat stress, boost your immune system, protect your heart and reduce pain.
What’s more, it may even increase your life expectancy. While further research is required to understand how these effects work, there’s no reason you can’t start prioritising your happiness now.
Focusing on the things that make you happy will not only improve your life — it may help extend it too.
This article on “How to be Happy” was taken from the Lifeworks Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) library of resources available to all insured members with HanseMerkur health insurance plans. Please check it out to find other interesting and useful articles, pod casts and tips to help with your well-being or ask your local sales agent for more information about it.