How do we keep happiness in our life?
How do we define happiness? Psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar defines it as “the overall experience of pleasure and meaning”. Meaning gives you a sense of purpose in life, and pleasure gives you a sense of joy and wellbeing in the present moment.
Therefore, to keep happiness in our lives, we need to add pleasure and meaning to it. This allows you to increase your happiness in the moment and in the future.
Negativity is hardwired into our brain, to help us be aware of threats, problems, and stressors in our environment. This bias has helped us survive over the centuries. However, we also need to wire some positivity and happiness into our brains, so we are not ruled only by our negativity. Happy experiences and thoughts help us to grow new neural circuits in our brains. These neural pathways provide you with inner strengths such as resilience, gratitude, enthusiasm, and happiness.
The following ideas will help you keep happiness in your life.
If you are suffering from depression or serious anxiety, you may need more than these tips. Please continue with any medication or therapy you have been prescribed. If you would like to work we me as a therapist, please get in touch.
- Taking a deep breath – by taking deep breaths, we can turn off our “fight-or-flight” response, and feel calm and more relaxed, helping our confidence and happiness. Taking this one step further, and learning meditation is another great way to help your happiness grow.
- Gratitude – Find things in your day that give you a feeling of gratitude. Examples are, I have a job, I have a loving spouse, I have time to engage in my hobbies. Let that feeling of gratitude sink in, by continuing to plant positive experiences in your thoughts it will begin to embed them into your brain.
- Focus on the positive things that happen – my car got through its MOT, I didn’t get angry with anyone today, these are similar to the above, but help you programme your thoughts to be positive to help create happiness.
- Smiles are contagious – the deliberate decision to smile activates happiness-inducing chemicals too. When someone smiles at you, often we smile back even if it is a complete stranger. Make yourself happy and someone else with smiling.
- Consciously swap a negative thought or emotion with a positive one immediately. When we feel sad, helpless, or anxious, try to remember a situation, you were happy and focus on that memory. This will change the brain from the emotional part to the thinking part, which will help you feel more in control.
- Posture – studies have shown slouching can cause you to experience more bad moods, lower self-esteem, and less confidence than people who sit upright. Good posture helps physical wellbeing, also prevents neck, shoulder, and back problems. All this will help with you feeling happy.
- Appreciate the small pleasures of life – good experiences; however, small help our feelings of happiness. Focus for a few moments on the small, pleasant experiences you have like, “I have completed one item on my to-do list”, “I have chatted to a friend”, “I have had a relaxing bath”, “going for a walk and seeing wildlife”. The more you can reflect on good experiences and let them become your thoughts, your happiness will slowly increase.
- Appreciating yourself – Begin by listing things you have accomplished today, examples; – written an email to a friend, made an important phone call, or finished a project. Bringing your attention to all your strengths will lift your spirits.
- See the positive in your setbacks – Remember we all have setbacks when a problem arises and blocks a project you are working on, or something is cancelled at the last minute. Instead of getting upset and angry, look at it as a challenge, not a failure or block. Think of ways to move forward, a new opportunity.
- Positive screensavers and wallpapers – seeing pictures of happy experiences regularly throughout the day can help us focus on our happiness. These can also be inspirational quotes, there are many screensavers you can buy which give you a new quote each day. Looking at pictures and enjoying nature or a quote can help promote a healthy life, lowering our stress, blood pressure and increasing our happiness. Changing the pictures regularly, so you do not get used to one picture is a good idea.