What is ‘happiness’ ? How can you achieve it?
Happiness is generally described as, “a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? So what makes happiness so hard to achieve?
One of the common reasons that many people find it so difficult to find happiness is due to the ‘belief’ of what it really is. Our ability to be happy depends on how we define just what happiness means to us.
For some happiness is about what they’ve achieved, such as money, and status – a nice house, new car, several foreign holidays a year, etc.
Whilst there is little doubt that things such as this can bring us some ‘happiness’, the question is do they really bring us happiness in the long-term?
So what is happiness? Where does it come from? How do we achieve it?
A recent study by a leading American psychology magazine, offers the following ways to achieve more happiness.
- Live Our “Best Life.” For starters we can begin by living what is referred to as our “best life.” This consists of being the best version of ourselves we can be. It involves self-acceptance and no longer comparing ourselves to others. Living our best life also includes no longer using material things to measure our happiness, but focusing on the feeling. Practicing mindfulness (living in the moment) can also help us achieve happiness. In doing this we can fully experience the moment and learn to engage with each moment on its terms, taking things as they come. When we are able to accept things for what they are, we usually find ourselves being happier.
- Practice daily gratitude. Gratitude determines our attitude. As we practice gratitude, it eventually becomes second nature. We start to find the beauty in small things and appreciate all that life has to offer. Many people find it helps to keep a daily gratitude journal, and in this way they see that most days have ‘joyful moments’ and that their life is actually ‘not too bad’.
- Learn the art of letting go. When we learn to let go, we find the path to true freedom. By learning to let go, we are no longer held hostage by our past, or lingering negative emotions.
- Smile. Everyone knows a smile is contagious. If you’re feeling a bit down, force a smile and keep smiling. Smiling sends a message to our brain that we are happy and as a result, our brain releases endorphins (feel good hormones) into our blood stream which then boosts our mood further
- Smell something that makes you happy. The sense of smell is very powerful and can trigger several moods and reactions. Why not smell your way to happiness? Sniff your favourite flower, inhale your favourite fragrance, or indulge in the aromas of your favourite food. (When I’m feeling a bit down, I like to burn some ‘white sage’ incense . I not only enjoy the smell, but it also has some calming and relaxing properties.)
- Do something good for someone else. If you find it hard to you hard to smile, then, put a smile on someone else’s face. Doing a good deed will often result in a feeling of satisfaction and also joy.. When you’ve made a real difference to someone’s day, how can you avoid but smile?
- Take some exercise. Go for a walk – being out in nature, feeling the wind and sun on your face has been scientifically proven (as smiling does) to trigger endorphins which boost your mood for several hours afterwards Just, get up and get moving! There is no pick-me-up like doing something pleasurable you haven’t done in a while. Think back to little things that once have made you happy and start doing them again.
- Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. Just as a smile is contagious, so is laughter. Laughter decreases stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline, thus helping to stave off illness.Watch a funny movie or reminisce about something funny and just laugh. As the old saying goes, ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ and can be a real mood booster.
- Meditate Regular mediation is consistently associated with improvements in well- being. Scientists tell us that it causes areas of the brain associated with negative emotions such as fear to shrink.
- Eat some chocolate. Compounds found in chocolate (particularly in quality dark chocolate) encourage your brain to release the chemical anandamide, known as the bliss compound, which is responsible for the ‘runner higher’ The beauty here is no running required 🙂
- Let me know on my Facebook page what you do to make yourself happy.