Happiness is not just an emotion it is also a skill and just like any other skill it can be learnt and with practice it can be perfected to the point where it becomes quite effortless.
In psychology research there is a theory that suggests that each one of us has a happiness ‘set-point’ this is like a base line. When positive life events occur our happy meters go up and with negative events our happy meter goes down but given time we will always return to our base line….like a happiness ‘comfort zone’!
In practice however, this set-point can actually be reset by learning new skills which is fantastic news because who doesn’t want to be happier right?!
So since Happiness can be learnt what are the tasks we need to set ourselves in the short term to raise our set point for the long term?
Be Thankful – If you’re reading this post its because you care about how you feel and I’m sure you’ve heard it countless times but gratitude really is the key to happiness not as a short term measure but as a total transformation with which you experience life as a whole.
The art of gratefulness takes practice but once you start you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
Start by ending your day thinking of 3 things you’re grateful for, if it helps you can write them down in a journal – even if they are the same three things every day for the first few days it’s OK. I remember when I started this exercise I would repeat the same things over and over until I learnt to actually appreciate things for what they were and then it became easier. I’ve now worked myself up to 10 things I go over before bed but I still rough have days where I can’t think of anything, then I resort to my basics.
Challenge yourself, try looking for new things each day and you’ll see how going to bed smiling is the best way to plan for a positive day ahead!
It Is What It Is – If you’re anything like me, when something negative happens or someone says something hurtful you already have 10 (if not more) different thoughts going through your mind, with them come ‘what if’s’, ‘if only’s’ and ‘but why’s’.
Since I’ve committed to becoming the most positive version of myself I have a new word I say in my head when this situation presents itself – it comes with a mental shoulder shrug…this word is ‘meh’. For me, this word means ‘Oh well, it is what it is!’.
I don’t think of it anymore, it’s almost instinctive now – some of my friends find it strange how something can happen and I just carry on seemingly oblivious but that’s not what it is.
Every day I am constantly making the conscious choice NOT to entertain that voice in my head that just has me feeling anxious and unsettled and sometimes even fearful. I have a client who hums a certain Disney tune about ‘letting go’ every time she catches herself starting the negative dialogue in her head. Find something that works for you and do it – don’t think about it, just find a word, tune, phrase or quote that works for you, jump in and start now!
Practice Mindfulness – Now before you go and search the internet for videos, links and audios – the mindfulness I’m talking of here is simply being aware of where you are, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling and the thoughts in your mind without a need to act or react, just to be aware.
Take time when eating your lunch to actually eat your lunch, not multi task by doing the online grocery shop between mouthfuls while filling out a form and replying to an email while checking Facebook updates. By doing too many things at one you divide your energy and divide the actual joy of each experience – yes there is joy in filling out forms, someone somewhere needs the information only you can provide so they can, in return, provide you with information/services/items meant specifically for you!
There really is nothing more beautiful than really living and experiencing each moment fully…give it a go!
Take Care of Yourself – Here is another one you’ve heard of countless times but it really is worth mentioning again. It’s so easy to put other people’s needs before our own, to prioritise career or housework before ourselves. But think of it this way – how can you be the best at work/home/play if you’re not feeling like the best you? Take little time outs for yourself to feed your soul, to refuel and recharge your inner power source. Maybe watch a quick music video you like, go for a walk, call a friend or family member – nurture your relationships with loved ones and yourself. Eat healthy, fit in some exercise, be playful!
Have fun…you’ll be better for it…and happier!
Pay It Forward – Doing nice things for others makes you happier – this is a scientific fact!
Acts of kindness release serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a substance that has amazing health benefits including the ability to make us feel happier. Doing something for someone just for the sake of it is a great way to feel good inside.
A random act of kindness is good for you, great for the person receiving it and if someone just happens to see it then it becomes a motivation for someone to do something good too – a wonderful win win chain reaction – everyone is happy!
Keep a Checklist – Yes, it works!
You have a to do list and organiser for every aspect of your work and social life, why not one for your happiness?
I have a little notebook that goes with me EVERYWHERE! Anything I come across that looks fun or sparks joy in me I write it down either as a to do at some point or commit to a date and then I can cross it off.
On my way into work today I was sitting next to a man on the bus doing a Sudoku puzzle – I realised I actually miss doing those and they make me so happy so I made a note to check online for a Sudoku app.
Lunchtime puzzle for me…yay!!!
So, there you go! A few suggestions on how to move that set point higher. Remember slow and steady wins the race – a little push against our boundaries is good, too much and you’ll just end up where you started but disheartened and feeling like the task is too mighty.
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