Why is it so hard to be or stay happy?
It takes a commitment to choose happiness. Genetically, you are hardwired to think in a negative way because your brain was first created to survive. This cautious and suspicious approach has worked because it has kept our species alive. Unfortunately, this part of your brain does not create joy.
In addition, our society, encourages discontent. You need this cream to look younger or take this pill and feel better. Much of what we hear, is not what we need. I am not saying there isn’t a time or place for medication. For those with mental illness, medication is a requirement for mood stability. Mood stability is a building block to true happiness. People who experience severe depressive episodes, schizophrenia or bi-polar may have more of a challenge to get happy, although you can do it.
Why make happiness a goal?
Here are some benefits based on research. Lyubormirsky, Diener and King (2005) reviewed 200 studies and found the happiest people (a) had better marriages (b) more fulfilling friendships and social relationships (c) better coping skills (d) more satisfaction with their work (e) higher incomes in general. If you believe people are happy because they have the above, you need to turn it around. People who are happy create these situations in their lives and you can too.
How can you get some of what these happy people have?
The good news is, much of happiness is within your control. Being happy does not have to take a lot of work. Think about a time you felt truly happy. When you allowed and let go, the happiness emotion flowed within you.
Here are three techniques to get you started on creating more happiness in your life today:
Be mindful- Whether you practice meditation or the ability to notice the present moment, you build awareness. Being in the now allows you to be fully here, rather than stuck in the regrets of the past or worries about the future. Activities such as focusing on one task at a time, savoring and enjoying the meal you are eating or celebrating good moments, all increase one’s happiness.
Do for others- People get pleasure from helping others because in giving, you receive. Start performing random acts of kindness. These actions can be relatively inexpensive or free. Read this blog for ideas on how to begin –> 10 Powerful Yet Simple Ways to Spread Kindness Energy
Change your thoughts– At one point or another, you will face some form of adversity in life. You cannot choose the circumstances that happen to you but you can choose how you think about them and yourself.
This is not as simple as inserting a positive thought into your life. You need to investigate your core beliefs and re-frame thoughts in a realistic (not overly optimistic) way. Learn how to accept a situation for what it is and let go of any suffering thoughts. In psychology, this is known as cognitive behavioral therapy. You may ask; Do I need to go to therapy to learn this? You can do it yourself. There are times you will benefit from having a professional’s expertise, who helps you see objectively. Let’s drop the mental health stigma once and for all and put your happiness first!
What is one small thing you will do today to bring some happiness into your life?
Reference: Lyubomirsky, S., Diener, E., King., L.(2005) The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 13(6) 803-855.
Lisa Hutchison LMHC is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Lisa is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net