Archive for March, 2014

Let’s do more of the things that make us happy

March 27, 2014
What makes you happy?

What makes you happy?

If you want to be happy, do more of the things that make you happy. Here are five tips to help you along the way.

Happiness lies in the journey

Seeking happiness for its own sake rarely works. Action toward significant goals makes us happy. While there’s a place for taking it easy, watching a movie and eating cake, easy pleasures will never excite us the way mastering a new skill or building something from scratch will.

And it’s not crossing the finish line that’s most rewarding; it’s anticipating achieving your goal. Working hard toward a goal, and making progress to the point of expecting a goal to be achieved, doesn’t just activate positive feelings, it provides focus and concentration, which can suppress negative emotions.

If you’re feeling depressed or worried, throw yourself into something you enjoy; it lifts your mood and provides a sense of satisfaction.

Money does buy happiness – to a point

Money does buy happiness, but only up to the point where it enables you to live comfortably. Beyond that, more cash doesn’t boost your well-being. But generosity brings a strong sense of satisfaction, so striking it rich could underwrite your happiness—if you were to use it to help and benefit others.

Happiness is good friends

To live a happy life, make strong personal relationships a priority. Friends are an excellent happiness tonic; they can be part confidant, psychologist, personal motivator, cheer squad and objective sounding board. Mostly they’re just great to be around, make us laugh and leave us feeling better for the experience. Good relationships are buffers against life’s inevitable speed bumps and setbacks.

Happiness is a personal value statement

If you aren’t living according to your values, you won’t be happy, no matter how much you’re achieving.

Some people aren’t sure what their values are. If you’re one of them, consider this question: Imagine you had the approval and support of everyone you know and had no financial constraints for the rest of your life. What would you then choose to do with your life?

Once you’ve answered, you can start taking steps toward your ideal vision of yourself. Remember it’s not necessarily achieving it now that will make you happy, it’s the confidence that you’re achieving something worthwhile and enjoying the journey. After all, the state of happiness is not really a state at all; it’s an ongoing personal experiment.

Happiness is relative

Whether or not we’re keeping up with the Joneses affects how happy we are. Some are more obsessed with status than others, but most are aware of how they’re doing in life relative to those around them. Comparison may be natural, but not always constructive, leading to status anxiety.

Happiness comes when we strive to achieve our goals for our reasons. Not to do things just because our friends, neighbours or advertising tell us to. We can be happy for other people’s success, and appreciate their choices, while following our own path.


Happiness is not the absence of pain

March 18, 2014
Happiness is about finding balance

Happiness is about finding balance

Happiness is not a panacea for escaping pain, avoiding setbacks or ignoring negativity. Happiness is not a shield that protects you from the buffeting of life. Happiness can provide you with resilience, balance and a positive perspective in dealing with the challenges of life.

A happiness outlook suggests you confront negative feelings without letting them overwhelm you. Many popular conceptions of happiness are misleading because they set people up for a struggle against reality. They don’t acknowledge that life is full of disappointment, personal challenges and pain. To live a full life we must open ourselves to a full range of emotions.

The goal isn’t to limit the range of our feelings. Negative feelings provide insight what we value and what we need to change: frustration, anger, grief and anxiety all provide valuable clues into ourselves.

Grief for the pain suffered by a loved one proves how much we value that person. Anxiety about a new job shows just how important performing well or making a positive impression means to us. Continued frustration with a situation may be the catalyst for us to make a change.

Dealing with these challenges will lead us to happiness and a more fulfilled life; the life that is right for us. There can be great satisfaction in overcoming life’s challenges. Often this will lead to greater levels of happiness than if we hadn’t faced challenges at all.

Does getting what you want bring lasting happiness?

March 11, 2014
Are you getting everything you want?

Are you getting everything you want?

Do you think you’d be happy for the rest of your life if you received a million dollars, secured the perfect job or met your ideal partner? Would happiness be lost forever if you lost your job, you lost your money or your partner left you?

The reality is that after a period of adjustment, in most circumstances, we’ll bounce back to our previous level of happiness, despite what happens to us.

Our adaptability works in two directions. Because we’re so adaptable we quickly get used to many of the accomplishments we strive for in life, such as landing the big job or owning the dream car, holiday house or diamond ring.

Soon after we reach a milestone we start to feel that something is missing. Our new level of success or achievement becomes our base line, our excitement and euphoria subside and we ask ‘What’s next?’ We recalibrate our lives so the exceptional quickly becomes the normal.

Such an approach keeps us tethered to the hedonic treadmill, chasing more, where happiness is always just out of reach, one toy or promotion away. It’s a never-ending cycle of ‘I’ll be happy when’.

It’s possible to get off the treadmill when we learn to be grateful for what we have and to enjoy it fully without feeling the need to push it aside to see what’s next. Sometimes striving is not as satisfying as being.

If you seek lasting happiness, focus on activities that are exciting, interesting and attention-absorbing; activities that inspire you. When you find a hobby, passion or vocation that makes you happy you may find you require less ‘stuff’ to fill the void.