Don’t we all want to be happy?
Aren’t all our motives for doing anything to reach some level of happiness?
Psychologist Ed Diener, author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, describes what psychologists call “subjective well-being” as a combination of life satisfaction and having more positive emotions than negative emotions.
Happiness isn’t a destination, you won’t be happier when you’re thinner, or when you make more money, or when you get that big screen tv.
You’ll be happier by having more positive emotions than negative emotions on a daily basis.
Here’s three very effective ways to do that.
Simple things anyone can do. Scientifically proven to alter our brain chemistry to produce positive emotions.
One – Gratitude.
Without a doubt, gratitude is one of the most important traits one can nurture to increase happiness.
You probably woke up this morning with a few aches and pains, but you woke up.
Maybe you’ve seen better days, but you’ve also seen worse.
Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is good.
Acknowledging that makes you happier. That’s just a fact.
Looking at something and saying “I’m so pleased that that’s in my life!” Makes you happier.
Feeling gratitude is a choice we can make every single day in a hundred situations.
The only parking place is at the back of the lot? Instead of feeling inconvenienced, I try to be grateful that I have healthy legs and that I’m able to walk all that way without too much effort or thought.
Next time something is inconvenient, find something spectacular about it all and give yourself a big “woohooo! Life is good!”
Too often though, we forget to acknowledge what is good in our lives.
Some people espouse the benefits of a Gratitude Journal, whereby you take a few moments each day to write a short list of things you are grateful for. Keeping a Gratitude Journal forces you to acknowledge the good in your life.
I’m grateful the puppy didn’t get into the trash while I was at work today.
I’m grateful for my new computer.
I’m grateful that my significant other is a good cook.
I’m thankful my boss was in a good mood today.
All of us CAN find things we are grateful for each and every day.
Two – Attitude.
Another important factor in your personal happiness is your attitude.
So what is attitude anyway? On the surface, it is the way you transmit your mood to others. But attitude is more than that actually, it’s the way you see the world, so to speak.
That means attitude is everything.
Attitude is more important than facts, appearance, giftedness or skill. It is more important than the past, your education, the money you have or don’t have, more important than your circumstances.
And we get to choose our attitude.
No matter what life throws at you, you can decide what these events mean to you, how you choose to feel about them, and how you will react. That’s attitude.
It was Charles Swindoll who said – life is about 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to those events.
Granted this is not the easiest task on my list.
Attitude doesn’t stand still; it is an ongoing perceptual process. There’s always negativity around you that can easily alter your perspective and affect your disposition.
A constant focus on burdens and complaints makes the world a rather annoying place.
The big trick is to choose to see the best that any situation provides.
If negativity creeps in, you have to consciously substitute something positive in its place.
Like that parking place at the back of the lot – wooohoo – I got legs! It’s all good!
That’s how to be keep a positive attitude.
Three – Awareness.
There’s a one-in-two chance your mind is on something else as you sit here right now. Are you thinking of what you have to do when the meeting is over? Wondering when you’ll have time to schedule that oil change you know you need? Thinking about the argument you had with your kid this morning?
Harvard psychologists found that we spend 46.9% of our time doing one thing while thinking about another.
If you’re stuck on tomorrow or yesterday, today, right now, trickles away like water down a drain.
Today isn’t preparation for tomorrow. Today is the main event.
Do not get caught up in the lie that happiness only exits in the future, the possibility for it exists in every instant of your life, if you’ll consciously acknowledge it.
In a world of abundant stimuli and incessant movement it’s so easy to overlook seemingly minor joys.
If you want to be happier, appreciate as many moments as you can manage every day.
Next time it’s sunny outside, turn your face up to it and really feel that early springtime warmth.
I bet you’ll smile.
As you walk to your car tonight, notice the feel of the steps you take, notice the grace of your body as you shift weight from one foot to the next, smell the springtime air, listen to the sound of your shoes on the pavement. Look at the moss in the sidewalk cracks.
Sometimes I’ll even take it so far as to marvel at the engineering feat represented by the tiny sound of the snick of my door lock when I press the fob.
Life, and time, go by very very quickly. Grab at those chances to cultivate positive emotions.
Savor the moment is almost cliché, but do you know that if you savor each bite of food you put in your mouth you’re almost guaranteed to lose weight? Have a craving for potato chips? Try eating them one at a time.
Notice the delicious salty crunch. The way a thin chip practically melts on your tongue.
It’s highly unlikely you’d eat half a bag this way, 10 or 12 chips would be plenty.
Our minds are amazing. Brains perform calisthenics and perceptual twists that science hasn’t fully explored yet. We know that choosing to practice gratitude, consciously altering our attitudes and appreciating the moment changes the chemical makeup of our brains and makes us feel and experience more positivity.
While the studies are out we can use this rudimentary information to shape our days and our lives into a vast collection of positive emotions.
Because even when we have reached our goals and succeeded in our dreams, we can only experience true happiness if we really notice and absorb the beauty and joy of the little moments and the wonderful world that surrounds us.
And it’s not what you look at that matters, but what you see.