Happiness…that intangible state of being…What exactly is it…and how do we get it?
Happiness is not a guarantee. It is something we create and maintain. And beyond that, it is most certainly a mindset--it is a choice we make each and every day.
Happiness is not just that elated feeling of bouncing from one joyful moment to the next. It is more than just a positive feeling. It is a sense of elation and fulfillment that comes from living a good life that is grounded in meaning and heartfelt satisfaction.
It is not about being happy every moment. Truly happy people innately understand that oftentimes to sustain their happiness means pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, to grow and experience. Studies show that happy people are in essence—curious. While this can cause some temporary discomfort or vulnerability, happy people persist because they know this will lead to an even higher level of happiness and meaningfulness.
Studies have shown that the key factors to our happiness come from three things:
- The quality of your social and interpersonal relationships such as a romantic relationship, close friendships, family ties, etc. play a huge role. Emotional connections are vital influencers on your level of happiness
- Having a job or hobby that you love and that brings you meaning and fulfillment while challenging you is another key factor. Discovering and living your purpose is a key ingredient to overall life satisfaction.
- The ability to help others whether through volunteer efforts or random acts of kindness. Having the ability to give back and help others boosts our happiness level.
But there is also a genetic component that determines our happiness. Have you noticed that there are people who are inherently upbeat and chipper, while others are negative and sourly disappointed most of the time? We each have a happiness set point with genetics and personality as direct influencers. So even when positive events happen and give us that emotional boost of joy, before long, like a pendulum we swing back to our natural set point. As Marci Schimoff notes in her book, Happy for No Reason,
“Studies show that each of us has a "happiness set-point" -- a fixed range of happiness we tend to return to throughout our life -- that's approximately 50 percent genetic and 50 percent learned. In the same way you'd crank up the thermostat to get comfortable on a chilly day, you can actually raise your happiness set-point!”
Even with some of these predetermined factors, and with outside elements influencing our level of happiness, we still hold much of the power to attain happiness. With focused practice, you can create powerful habits for a more satisfying, fulfilling, and meaningful life.
Beyond the fact that happiness feels good, it is also good for you. Science has shown that happiness positively affects our immune system and overall health, heightened creativity, and our level of productivity. Happiness can lower blood pressure, reduce levels of stress, and help individuals maintain healthy body weight and stronger hearts.
So pursue that which makes you happy…that which ignites your soul…that which fills your heart with bliss.
How happy are you?
Catherine Roberts has broken down happiness into eight steps on her blog.
Happiness By The Numbers
by Catherine Roberts
So see, there’s something to having a positive outlook on life. Here are eight ways that you can look on the bright side of a healthier life…
1. Turn That Frown Upside Down
You might notice that people more often gravitate to those with a sunnier disposition. However, the actual act of smiling emits serotonin (the happy hormone) and creates a, stimulating, positive environment while frowning creates negative energy and drives people away.
2. Happy People Are Inspired Not Jealous
Instead of looking at your coworker with the expensive car and bigger job title with envy, positive people choose to look upon them as a source of inspiration by channeling that negative, pointless jealousy into a catalyst for their own success. Frowning creates negative energy and drives people away.
3. Don’t Play the Blame Game
We all know a person who blames everyone else for their problems. They’re not very nice to be around, are they? If you complain to everyone about how the economy, work, and the government are bringing you down, you will bring everyone down within earshot and suddenly find yourself alone with no one to blame. Instead, take control of your current situation and be the harbinger of your own success.
4. Exercise Blasts Stress
There’s more than a physical reason why doctors recommend an hour of activity a day. It’s because healthy exercise helps blast stress, refresh oxygen, encourage blood flow, and even exposes us to sunlight (vitamin D), which literally helps us absorb happiness.
5. Forgive and Forget
Forgiveness may be hard to swallow, especially if your pride is in the way. However, forgiving means moving on, banishing negative, and making way for new, more positive chapters in your life. Otherwise, you stay in a state of negative limbo, never at peace to move on to a happier future.
6. Forget About the Past
If you consider a bad childhood, bad financial decisions made years ago, or a breakup as a negative self-fulfilling prophecy for your future, your future will be pretty gloomy. Instead, take life’s challenges as lessons, put them in your past, and consider yourself stronger for overcoming the negatives in your past.
7. Give Thanks
It turns out those with many blessings are grateful for those blessings. Take satisfaction for the good that’s come into your life. Give thanks by taking inventory of the positive as well as the challenges and what they’ve taught you along the way. Building a foundation of optimism under your life will ensure a strong, bright future.
8. See the Silver Lining
Do you concentrate on the silver lining or see the dark spots in every cloud? If you’re constantly focusing on the negative—you’re actually wasting time that you could be enjoying life. Thoughts full of doom and gloom will translate to life. However, focus your energy on the bright side and your life and future will take on the happy glow.