The causes of happiness – how to be happy


Happiness is a genetically influenced trait, just like cholesterol. However, because cholesterol is also affected by diet and exercise, our happiness is somewhat controlled by us. Here are some research-based suggestions to improve your happiness and improve your life satisfaction. These ideas were crystallised from the book by David G. Myers, The Pursuit of Happiness.

1. Realise that financial success may not lead to enduring happiness. People adjust to different circumstances. Wealth is therefore like health: its complete absence creates misery, but having it ( or anything we long for) does not guarantee happiness.

2. Take your time under control. Happy people feel their lives are under control. To master your time, set goals and divide them into everyday tasks. While we often overestimate how much we achieve in any given day (leaving us frustrated), we generally underestimate how much we can accomplish in a year, given only a little progress every day.

3. Act happy. Forcing yourself to smile, people feel better and when they put on a happy face. Speak as if you feel confident, optimistic and outgoing with high self- esteem. Fake it until you make it.

4. Seek work and leisure that engage your skills. Happy people are often in an area called flow, which is absorbed into tasks that challenge but do not overwhelm. Passive leisure forms (watching TV) often offer less flowing experience than gardening, socialising or craft work. Take time to enjoy such lovely experiences.

5. Join the movement of ” motion.” Aerobic exercise can alleviate mild depression and anxiety and promote energy and health. There are sound minds in sound bodies. Couch potatoes off your duffs.

6. Give the sleep that your body wants. Happy people live active, vigorous lives but still have time to renew with rest and alone time. Many people are suffering from sleep debt, resulting in fatigue, reduced alertness and dull feelings.

7. Make close relationships a priority. Intimate friendships with those who care about you genuinely can help you to cope with difficult times. Confidence is good for body and soul. Resolve to nurture your closest relationships by not taking your loved ones for granted, by showing them the kind of kindness you show to others, by affirming them, by playing together and by sharing with one another.

8. Concentrate energy beyond self. Reach out to those who need support. Happiness increases the likelihood of service ( those who feel good do good). But also doing well makes us feel good.

9. Count your blessings and keep a gratitude journal. Keeping a journal of gratitude increases well- being. Try to pause every day to record positive events and why they happened. Express to others your gratitude.

10. Feed your spiritual self. For many people, faith offers a community of supporters, a reason for focusing beyond oneself and a sense of purpose and hope. This explains why people working in religious communities report higher than average happiness and often handle crises well.

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