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The Secret to Creating Happiness
Why are you so happy?
You see them all the time. Those happy people who walk with a spring in their step and a smile on their face. You know the ones. They always have an encouraging word, and they don't seem to let the cares of the world drag them down.
You watch them as they float through life, seemingly carefree, not worried about a thing. And you wonder, "What do you have to be so happy about?"
You wonder if those "happy" people ever watch the news, or if they are in a world of their own ignorance. You wonder if they have bills and illnesses and depression, or if they are just lucky. You wonder why on earth someone would be so happy all the time, and for a moment, you are just a little bit envious.
How can you find that happiness, that naive oblivion, that devil may care attitude? How can you be happy?
There are lots of answers to what makes people happy, and there is also one secret to happiness, that could change your entire life.
Create your own happiness
What do psychologists say?
Martin Seligman became an outspoken proponent of "positive psychology" in the 1990's. As a well respected psychologist and author, Seligman postulates in his recent book, "Flourish," that well-being can be measured by five elements.
You can remember the psychological elements of well-being and happiness with the mnemonic PERMA, and try to emulate them in your own day-to-day life.
Positive Emotion- While this is a subjective assessment, you can typically tell when you are feeling or acting with positive emotion. When you engage in activities that you find enjoyable or pleasant, or mentally stimulating or challenging, you are likely to experience positive emotion. Intellectual stimulation and creativity are doorways to positive emotion, and when we engage in activities that stimulate our brain, we are happier than when we are bored or frustrated.
In addition, when we remember activities that made us happy or brought us joy in the past, it helps relieve stress and tension. If you are feeling tired, frustrated or uninspired, remember the joy you felt as you skied down the mountain, or swam in the ocean. Bringing to mind these pleasant experiences will increase your happiness.
Engagement- Engagement is the process by which you lose track of time. Have you ever been so completely absorbed in a project or task that time flew by unawares? This type of engagement leads to deep internal happiness. Seligman refers to this type of engagement as flow.
When you are in the flow of your life, you experience deep happiness and satisfaction. Whatever the activity, whether it is reading, writing, drawing, running, dancing; the list could go on. What is important is to discover for yourself ways to lose yourself in the flow of life and become totally engaged. When you find that place, you will find happiness.
Relationships- Relationships can be a double edged sword, but Seligman suggests that spending time with friends, family and loved ones can bring great happiness.
Not only can you find happiness in deep, intimate relationships, such as with a spouse or close friend, but Seligman also says that happiness can be felt in those fleeting, temporary social connections we have with people we meet in the coffee shop, passers by on the street, or people we serve while volunteering.
Wherever you find connection with other people, laughter and love, you will find happiness.
Meaning- Creating meaning in your own life by serving and belonging to something bigger than yourself is another avenue toward happiness. Seligman describes living a meaningful life as attaching yourself to something greater. A greater ideal, a greater purpose, a greater idea.
When you create meaning in your life by looking outside the narrow window of your own existence and serving others, and worshiping or believing in a force greater than yourself, will give your life meaning, and deepen your happiness.
Achievement- Having goals, even small ones, and taking steps to achieve them, is another important ingredient in creating happiness and well-being in your own life. As you achieve your goals, you will increase your esteem, and your sense of accomplishment. The satisfaction from those achievements leads to greater happiness.
Get into the flow
Habits of Happy People
Act Happy: When you act happy, you feel happy
Take care of yourself
Notice when things go right
Spend time volunteering
Get lots of sleep
Appreciate the simple pleasures of life
Give of your time, treasures, and talents
Go outside and notice nature
Lose track of time doing things you love
Listen to someone else
Listen to upbeat, cheerful music
More Ways to be Happy
Unlock the secret of Happiness for your own life
While simply acting happy is a good start, there must be something deeper in your life, in order to maintain abiding happiness.
Studies have shown a link between spiritual practice and happiness, with a variety of explanations about why being spiritual makes people generally happier. In the book "Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth," author Ed Diener postulates that a spiritual experience helps people create a meaningful life, full of compassion, love, and gratitude. As people move away from being selfish, to serving others, they become much happier.
Diener goes on to remind readers that happiness is a process, not an end point. The journey of being happy is the point, not the final destination of happiness. As we develop spiritually, we naturally become more aware of the importance of the present moment, of releasing our unrealistic expectations, and the need to focus on a picture much bigger that what we see in front of us.
Whether it is an established religion, a particular philosophical or spiritual belief or teacher, the end result can be happiness for those who follow that path. There are several key components that transcend religion, belief and practice. Those include prayer or meditation, focusing on something greater than ourselves, worship and reverence for the world, for ourselves and for others, and service to others.
Most texts of perennial wisdom offer the same lessons, regardless of whether you read the Bible, the Koran, the Yoga Sutra's or Buddhist teachings. The eternal lessons reflected in these texts talk about sharing love, expressing kindness, and treating others the way you would like to be treated. In addition, most texts of perennial wisdom refer to releasing fear, letting go of desire, and finding satisfaction in the present moment.
When we follow these basic spiritual teachings, we create a life of peace, love and happiness.
How Happy Are you?
In general how happy do you feel in your day-to-day life?
Don't worry. Be happy
The ONE thing you can do to be happy
There is one real secret to happiness. The secret to happiness is to be happy. Stop worrying about whether or not you are happy. Stop worrying about circumstances, and outcomes and what-if's.
Instead, in this moment, choose to be happy. No matter what is happening around you. No matter what calamity might wait around the corner. You can choose, in this moment, to be happy. You have the power to choose, right now, to be happy.
Of course, difficult things come into our lives. You have a choice. You can respond by becoming angry or frustrated, you can choose to feel helpless and victimized. Or, you can choose to respond to the best of your ability, while maintaining your happy demeanor. This is not to say that when tragedy strikes, you laugh at calamity. But rather than allowing yourself to become miserable over circumstances you can't control, take a deep breath. Realize that while you can't control circumstances, you can control yourself. Choose not to be a victim. Choose not to let one bad event ruin your life. Choose, in this moment, to be happy in spite of what is happening.
Choosing to be happy doesn't mean you walk around with a stupid grin on your face all day. Instead it means that you face your life with a positive outlook. You don't obsess over outcomes. You let go of the outcome and enjoy the process. Being happy doesn't have to look hysterical. Being happy can be peaceful, serene and content. It is about accepting what you must, changing what you can, and appreciating all that you have in your life.
Happiness, just like victimization, is a choice. While we can't always choose the things that happen in our lives, we can choose how we react. Our response is our responsibility. When something unfortunate unfolds in your life, rather than dwell on disaster, look for the small blessings within the storm. There is always, always something to be grateful for. Don't focus on the negative, on what you want, or what you wish was different. Instead, focus on the good. Focus on the positive. Focus on whatever brings peace in the moment.
Being happy really is as simple as choosing to be happy. While it seems trite, it is truthful. We can choose our own response. Today, you can choose to be happy.