We all have an internal desire to be happy. That’s because happiness feels good! Our brains and bodies actually feel better when we experience joy than any negative emotions, such as anger or disgust. This goes to show that being happy really does do a body good.
There was a time in our lives that feeling happy did not take quite as much effort. When we were children we did not worry about the logistics of our days. We laughed and played constantly because it felt good to be carefree, however as we grew older things changed. Work stress, family hardships, relationship struggles, and health concerns began to tear our ‘happy’ down ever so slowly. Emotions like worry and anxiety became the norm instead of the exception.
Research from all over the globe illustrates the close ties between our emotions and our overall well-being. In her book, The How of Happiness , research psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky states we have control over 40% of our own happiness. A fascinating read detailing what happiness is, what it is not, and specific strategies to garner more happiness. Lyubomirsky goes on to state that 50% of our happiness is tied to genetics, but only 10% is a result of life circumstances.
What exactly is happiness?
My first instinct is to break out into a rendition of These Are a Few of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music, but those may just be the things that bring me happiness. “Exploring joy is nothing less than exploring what makes the human experience satisfying,” according to The Book of Joy. The human experience, as the book so eloquently puts it, may not look or feel the same for each of us. Being joyful is more frequently described as a state of being rather than simply a feeling that comes and goes.
“Let’s take charge! Don’t allow worries to strip you of your joy.”Mrs. B
Why be happy?
Feeling joy frequently helps us combat stress and provides an energy boost to handle the ebbs and flows of our daily life. From a wellness perspective, it can help us lower our risk for heart attacks and keep our cortisol and cholesterol levels moderated. Happiness may be just what we need to fulfill our purpose in life.
Ways to add more joy:
All the research and positive pep talks in the world can’t make us feel happy when we are in a crummy mood. However, there are some things we can do to encourage a happier mindset.
- Use your time wisely – include items on your To-Do List that foster productivity.
- Smile – it expresses happiness to others and they are contagious 🙂
- Walk outside and absorb the beauty of nature – simply taking a break from the busyness of life and breathing fresh air can work wonders.
- Pay someone a compliment – a kind word goes a long way.
- Limit critical remarks to yourself and others.
- Help others – giving to someone else puts you on the long-term highway to happiness.
- Keep things in perspective – remember everything in this life changes and passes.
- Improve and develop yourself – take a class online, join a community organization, or dig into your hobbies.
- Recognize your strengths – focus on the things in which you excel and be mindful not to compare your strengths to others. We are all different!
- Watch or read something inspirational –
- Learn to say ‘no’ when you are feeling overloaded – taking on too much wears on our bodies and minds stripping us of joy.
- Create a list of things, people, places, or experiences that bring you joy! Start by listing 5 items and read it every morning when you wake to encourage an uplifting mindset throughout your day.
Regardless of how you feel from day to day remember that consciousness creates reality. Start by focusing on being mindful of what you think, feel, and do. By dwelling on happier moments we can slowly train our brains to be more familiar with feelings of joy. Above all, be patient with yourself and realize that even positive shifts take time.
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(Cover photo from vibekeklemesten.no)