How to be happy is a powerful question to ask. Scientists view happiness as a combination of how satisfied you are with your life, and how good you feel on a daily basis. Everyone wants to be happy with their life.
It varies from person to person, but approximately thoughts, actions and behaviours, 50% is genetically determined, and 10% is determined by your circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, we get used to our circumstances over time, so they don’t play as large a role in our happiness level as we might think.
Happiness is a skill you can build with consistent practice. You have the ability to control how fulfilling your life is!
Keep in mind that happiness is not:
About feeling hunky-dory all the time. It’s not having all the money you could ever want It’s not about refusing to see the negative stuff in the world and it’s not a final destination either.
Happy people are healthier people because:
They have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, have better immunity and heal faster after injuries; They’re more likely to have a healthier diet, and they live longer too. It’s also healthier to have steady levels of moderate happiness over time than spikes of extreme happiness. And your happiness isn’t just about you.
Happy people Are more productive at their study or jobs. They typically have deep relationships with others.
They help other people and volunteer more, They’re more likely to donate money to charity And they’re more creative problem solvers.
You can increase your happiness in the long term by:
- Nurturing relationships
- Having new experiences
- Helping others
- By being grateful for what you have
Savour your happy experiences!
You can get even more happiness out of a good experience by savouring it. Use all your senses. Pay attention to sights, sounds, smells and feelings. Pay attention to the little details of a great experience. Share it with someone else. And linger and dwell on the moment too.
Savouring experiences make us happier, more grateful and more hopeful while reducing levels of stress, guilt and depression. Good experiences strengthen the parts of the brain connected with happiness.
Avoid these 3 things that will kill your happiness
- Comparing yourself to others;
- A lack of close friendships;
- Holding onto resentment.
People who’ve experienced some adversity in life are actually happier than those who’ve never experienced any.
Honour the struggle
After adversity, once we’ve got some distance and perspective, making sense of our life’s challenges helps us to:
- Shape our identities
- Increase our resilience
- Cope better with current stressors
- Become more optimistic about the future
The search for the meaning of life
Feeling connected to a deeper purpose, mission or direction in life is key for our well-being. People who report having more meaning in their lives are more likely to have stable moods and show sociable behaviour. People of all ages report being happier when they have more meaning in their lives.
Different ways people can find more meaning are:
Through a fulfilling career: People who find meaning at work show more motivation and engagement on the job.
Raising children: The most happiness and fulfilment of any relationship.
Through spirituality or religion. Studies show that people who are spiritual or religious tend to be happier.
Besides meaning, it also gives people a built-in social network. And you can also get more meaning by pursuing goals that align with your core values. Goals that include commitment to something outside yourself, such as friends, family or community, and goals that promote life satisfaction.
Make Time for Friends!
On days when people spend 6-7 hours with friends or family, they’re 12 times more likely to report feeling happy rather than stressed. People who work full-time experience the most happiness on days when they spend 8-9 hours with friends and family – so make the most of your weekends!
The power of gratitude
Being intentionally grateful is very powerful too. Well known researcher Brene Brown said, “In a single person with the capacity to really experience joy who does not also actively practice gratitude”. In one study, people who wrote down things they were grateful for once a week for six weeks felt happier and less depressed for up to 6 months. They reported better sleep quality and they were more likely to engage in healthy behaviours like exercise.
Here are 5 Ways to instantly boost your happiness:
- Spend 5 minutes doing something to brighten the day of someone you love.
- Email someone and thank them for something they did for you.
- Have a meaningful conversation with a good friend.
- Take 30 seconds to help someone who needs it.
- Or just savour a memory – close your eyes and relive the happiest moment of your life.
Find your flow
Some other tips are to get into a ‘flow state’ by engaging in an activity that’s enjoyable, requires a degree of skill, and
is just enough of a challenge that you can feel ‘in the zone’, and lose all sense of time.
Meditate on this
People who regularly practice mindfulness meditation have increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for calm and happiness.
Take someone else’s point of view. When others feel understood, you have a chance to build intimacy and wellbeing.
Happiness by nation
When we compare countries, here are the things that correlate with higher happiness. GDP per capita. Freedom to make life choices. Generosity. And longevity.
But the most important factor that researchers found is, to be happy in life we need social support or have someone to count on in times of trouble. Remember that happiness is like a skill you can get better at.