7 Simple Steps to a Happier Life
How Do We Measure Happiness?
Many of you will remember the happiness survey commissioned by the government a few years ago . Quite apart form the debate around the issue of whether or not happiness or well-being could be measured it revealed that teenagers and older folk reported the highest levels of happiness. Which of course leaves a lot of people between these ages not feeling too happy at all.
People who were married, had jobs and owned their own homes also reported high levels of happiness and while a greater number of women than men rated their lives as worthwhile they also reported higher levels of anxiety. You can read more detail by following the link below.
But whatever any survey 'finds' I am sure we have all come across people who are unhappy, many of us may have experienced phases of unhappiness ourselves, and while there may certainly be very difficult circumstances for some people to cope with it certainly doesn't seem to follow that the people who appear to be in the most difficult situations are the most unhappy. In fact some people seem to have it all yet are not happy, and it is the individuals own perception that matters.
So what can you do to increase your own happiness or help others move towards a happier life? Like al lot of things in life it is a process but you can start by following the simple steps below to find a path to greater happiness.
1 - Be Honest With Yourself
The first step is to acknowledge your own feelings. Go on be honest are you happy with your life as it is, broadly speaking at the moment? Often it is helpful to think of the major areas of life, like relationships, family, job, home environment, social life or friends, hobbies or interests and of course health. Very often people who are not happy find themselves in that situation because of one sphere of life, maybe a unhappy relationship, a job they don't like, a home they really don't feel at home in, perhaps a lack of friends to confide in, or frustration at having no time to follow their interests. Perhaps there are responsibilities that are difficult, like caring for relatives, and of course some people may be experiencing their own ill health. BUT the first step is pausing for a moment and actually acknowledging how you feel about your life in general, not you mood at the moment but your life, and how that fits with where in life you want to go.
2 - Believe In Change
I understand there are a few situations that are very hard to change but they are relatively few and far between and the situations that cause much unhappiness for many can in fact be changed. That is not to say it is easy but jobs, homes, relationships, locations, family issues and friendship groups, can actually be changed.
Sometimes this may involve very big changes, moving out of, or changing a relationship that no longer makes you happy, or studying while working to enable you to change your job. But there isn't really a decision if you can open your eyes and be honest with yourself and identify the areas you are no longer happy with then really you owe it to yourself to make some changes. We each of us get one shot at life so no one deserves to be 'putting up' with life - it should be embraced and lived to the full.
3 - Take Action
Identifying areas of your life that cause unhappiness and even believing that change is possible in a theoretical way will still not get you where you need to be. That requires action. You know what they say every journey however long begins with a first step.
So what needs to change and what ACTION needs to be taken in order for things to change. The one thing you can be fairly certain of is that if you do nothing - things will very often stay just exactly the way they are.
4 Be Positive
We've all heard the bottle half empty/ bottle half full tale. It emphasises that in any given situation it's possible to view it or respond to it in very different ways. But what we may not all realise is that our attitudes and response to situations DO have an impact on the situation itself and in terms of the laws of attraction will 'attract' similar scenarios into our lives. You can read more about the law of attraction here http://www.thesecrettolivingthelawofattraction.com/
Some people may find it easier than others because of their personality or background but the truth is that we can ALL cultivate a positive attitude. If something happens and you find yourself thinking negatively then tale a minute and see if there isn't something positive you could focus on instead. You will find if you do that that actually your own attitude to the event or situation changes too. Obviously I'm not suggesting that you don't try to change difficult situations, because yes you should but for the daily trials that most people face having a positive approach really does make things easier.
5 Be with Positive People
It's important to develop your own positive attitude to life, but it is also important to make sure that you surround yourself with people who are also positive. You may well have experienced that feeling of being on top of the world only to spend ten minutes with a person who oozes negativity and your own mood changes dramatically. Compassion and kindness are important virtues but it is also important to make sure that you do not have to spend too much emotional energy 'protecting' yourself from negativity. So if someone is always negative, and they are not a close friend or relative the best advice might be to avoid them, if it is someone that you have a relationship with or work closely with then challenge them. As soon as they start to be negative just say that you are working on creating a positive outlook and you are simply not going to listen to their negativity. Who knows you might be doing them a favour because it is very easy to slip into a downward spiral of negativity but it really never helps.
So much to be Grateful For
6 Be Grateful
Whatever your situation, there will almost always be something to be grateful for. This was illustrated for me poignantly recently when my sister, who has learning and physical disabilities had fallen and broken her arm, not the first time either, and when I saw her in hospital following an operation to put a plate in she was exhibiting her usually sunny personality and stated that she was really grateful she had her operation early in the day because she was able to enjoy lunch, which was obviously much better than waiting around all day without food or drink and with the prospect of an operation.There were lots of things to be unhappy about but there were also things (many more than just that) to be grateful for. This is an extension of a positive attitude but believe me if you practice gratitude regularly and develop that as an attitude it will change your life http://gratitudepower.net/science.htm
If you don't know where to start then think of the basic things, have you a comfortable bed, nice food to eat and a roof over your head, can you see aspects of nature that make you glad and do you friends you enjoy spending time with - you can keep going and have a long list of things to be grateful for.
7 Be Focussed On Others
So we've come full circle. The first step was to focus on yourself and be honest about yourself and your situation but having done that and followed the other steps - it's time to shift focus to others. Look at the happy people you know. Are they the people that always talk about themselves, that are always inward looking, that are self seeking and motivated by selfishness? I suspect not. As humans we are social creatures and are at our happiest when we have people we love around us and can enjoy their company and delight in their achievements. Think of your happiest moments, my suspicion is that they will involve others. There needs to be balance some people can become exhausted because they give to others consistently and rarely look after themselves. but as a principle shifting the focus from ourselves to others can work wonders for our happiness.
Focus on others
It's Up To You
When people are unhappy it is easy to blame it on circumstances or surroundings but other than in the most extreme situations happiness depends on the individual and they are the only person that can make themselves happy. In many ways it is a positive life choice that almost everyone can make. I acknowledge that there may be some people reading this who specific mental health problems and this may not apply to them but for the vast majority of adults if you want to be happy then choose to be so! It certainly doesn't mean that all your problems will go away but you are the only person who can be responsible for YOUR happiness