Tag Archives: how to be happy

The key to happiness – your mind

 

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The key to happiness – your mind

Your mind stores your memories and it also helps you to navigate life with wisdom and common sense. The computer/storage part helps us to analyse the world, compare things and relate facts to each other. The other part, the ‘transmitter’ deals with matters of the heart. It is the transmitter part of our mind that allows us to feel happiness. Unless we understand the value of the transmitter, we will falter when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to logically think your way out of a problem using the computer part of the brain.

Learn to trust the intuitive transmitter, the quiet part of your mind that often ‘nudges’ you in the right direction. The quiet part that we often ignore in our quests to control parts of life that aren’t controllable (like other people – what they say and do).

Our minds can work for or against us at any given moment. Get used to tuning in to your perceptive mind (transmitter) – it is the part that helps us to be emotionally intelligent and connect with others on a deeper level.

Mandy X

Things you don’t need for happiness

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Things you don’t need for happiness

Here are things you don’t need for happiness and they will help you to be more aware that life can be simpler and more fun than we realise. . I have found that many people spend inordinate amounts of time focusing on these things that are inane in the grand scheme of things:

To have everyone liking you

You will never be able to please everyone and have acceptance/validation from everyone. It’s a fact of life yet we spend time trying to please others unnecessarily. No one enjoys conflict but it is a waste to believe that you can get everyone to like you. We all want to be popular but that comes naturally when you are happy in yourself.

To have complete certainty

Life is inherently uncertain and the sooner we stop resisting this fact and make uncertainty our friend, the quicker we will experience peace of mind. We can learn to tolerate uncertainty by placing ourselves regularly in situations where the outcome is unknown. The more we do this the more we develop and grow our resilience. Regularly placing ourselves in unfamiliar situations gives us proof that we can cope with uncertainty. Get out of your comfort zone and face uncertainty with a positive attitude. There is nothing to fear. Constantly trying to control your world around will just lead to frustration and exhaustion.

To be in a relationship

Some relationships make us more unhappy than happy yet there is a common idea that being in a relationship is better than being single. The trick about life is that happiness comes from your attitude rather than your circumstances. Happiness is an inside job. It’s what we tell ourselves about a situation that makes us happy or sad. Get to know yourself well. Know your strengths and weaknesses and know what makes you happy and put that at the core of your life. Once you have that stable foundation within you, life becomes easier and the right people will come into your life. You don’t need another person first before happiness will emerge.

Consistent happiness

No one is happy 24/7. Happiness is experienced as a fleeting appreciation in the moment, and then it slips away to a lower level intensity.I was in Los Angeles two months ago and  had a fleeting sensation of pure happiness. I was sitting by the pool in the sun with my music playing with a hummingbird buzzing past me every few minutes. The combination of the sun. music and this cute tiny bird made me smile from ear to ear. I love those fleeting moments when life feels really good. Some people believe that they should feel this way all the time but it’s physically impossible for the human brain to operate at that level continuously.

Achievement

Taking time out can create just as much peace and happiness. We are conditioned to believe that we have to be achieving to be happy but I also know people who don’t achieve in the conventional sense who are incredibly content in their lives. The trick is to know yourself rather than comparing yourself with society in general. This can skew your values and true aspirations.

Value as a human being comes from being happy and joyful – you will give off far healthier vibes to the world than if you are a stressed out achiever, doing something that isn’t really for you but that you think you should be doing in order to be seen as a valuable human being. That’s nonsense.

Lots of money

Research has shown that after a certain amount, the level of happiness does not correlate to the amount of money earned. As long as we have enough to eat, live and connect with others, happiness tends to stay quite balanced. I think the approximate amount is around £49 000 per year. See here for more.

Happiness is achievable for everyone – mostly it relies upon your optimistic attitude. That is always a good start. Life is tough at times and being optimistic doesn’t mean you have to always see positives but you can at least reframe a bad incident into something more digestible on an emotional level. For example – instead of catastrophising and thinking the worst, it is possible to find a story to tell yourself that softens the blow.

Mandy X

 

 

Photo by Britt Selvitelle

How to Become Truly Happy

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How to Become Truly Happy: A Quick Overview

We all want to be happy. But what is happiness anyway?

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a leading happiness researcher, it is this: “The experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

No matter how you define happiness, it’s something that’s available to all of us. We just need to know how to get it.

Thankfully, there’s now more than enough scientific research telling us exactly how to do that.

In this article, I want to give you a quick overview of the science of happiness so that you’ll know exactly how to go about raising your own level of happiness.

Why Should You Even Bother About Happiness?

Why should you worry about boosting your level of happiness anyway? According to the research, being happy brings you tremendous benefits.

Happy people, for example, have been shown to enjoy greater health than their unhappy peers: They get sick less often, have lower blood pressure, and live longer lives.

Happy people also enjoy better relationships: They have more friends and are much more likely to have fulfilling marriages and intimate relationships.

Furthermore, happy people earn more money, are more productive at work, are more generous, cope better with stressful or traumatic events, and are more creative than unhappy people.

Shawn Achor, a famous happiness researcher, explains in one of his books that being happy literally primes our mind and body for peak performance:

“It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. Yet in today’s world, we ironically sacrifice happiness for success only to lower our brain’s success rates.”

He goes on to explain that happiness is a necessary ingredient in becoming more successful:

“When we are happy – when our mindset and mood are positive – we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.”

So, it’s definitely worth it to work on improving your level of happiness.

How Happiness Works in a Nutshell

Now that we know why improving your happiness is so critical, let’s turn to the how of actually doing it. Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple.

Happiness scientists use the following formula to explain all the different factors influencing your happiness:

Happiness = Genes (50%) + External Circumstances (10%) + Intentional Activities (40%)

In short, your happiness is determined by your genes, external circumstances, and intentional activities.

Out of the three variables, your genes have the biggest impact on your happiness – they account for a whopping 50 percent of the variance in your happiness. This means that 50 percent of your level of happiness is completely set and unchangeable. Some people are simply born happier than others. That’s natural. Some people are bigger, some smarter, some funnier, and some happier.

The good news is that the other 50 percent of your happiness are changeable and under your control.

Ten percent out of those remaining 50 percent are accounted for by the external circumstances in your life. Those are things like money, house, car, other material possessions, marriage, education, age, the city and country you live in, etc.

Most people spend a large part of their lives trying to improve those external circumstances. The narrative goes something like this: “When I get rich, own a big mansion, marry a Rockstar, and go to fancy parties… then I will be happy.”

Unfortunately, the research tells us that this doesn’t work. All those external circumstances together only explain 10 percent of the variance in your happiness. Whether you earn 5k or 50k or 500k per month, whether you live in a beautiful home or an old barn, whether you’re driving a fancy car or an old truck, whether you wear the newest clothes or worn out jeans… those things don’t make a big difference as far as your happiness is concerned.

You see, the reason why external circumstances account for so little is that they are subject to a powerful phenomenon called ‘hedonic adaptation’. It states that human beings adapt very quickly to new life circumstances. We quickly take good things for granted and overcome obstacles life throws in our way.

A fancy new car will make you happier for a few weeks, but then you will take it for granted and it will lose its happiness-boosting effect. Likewise, a pay cut will lower your happiness at first, but after a few weeks or months you’ll have adapted and it will feel like normal.

Even people who win the lottery don’t become lastingly happier. Within a year, these people tend to return to approximately the same level of happiness they’d experienced before winning the lottery. The same is true for people who become paraplegic. Within a year or so of being disabled, they return to their original happiness level.

The point is, your external circumstances have a surprisingly little effect on your happiness. Chasing more money, a faster car, a hotter wife, or a bigger house is pointless. You’re much better off focusing on the last variable in the happiness equation: Your intentional activities.

Your intentional activities – your behavior, thoughts, and actions – account for 40 percent of your happiness. If you want to become truly happy, this is where the gold is.

You see, when researchers compare happy individuals with unhappy individuals, they find that the main difference lies in these people’s daily behaviors. Happy people simply act and think differently. For example, they exercise regularly, spend a lot of time with family and friends, pursue meaningful goals, and think optimistically about the future.

If you want to raise your level of happiness, you need to act differently – you need to engage in more activities that make you happy. It’s really that simple.

So, here’s the thing I want you to take away from this section: If you want to be happier, you don’t need to change your circumstances (i.e. seek more money and faster cars), but you need to change your daily intentional activities – your thoughts and actions.

How to Become Lastingly Happier: The 40 Percent Solution

Let’s do a quick recap of how happiness works. The research tells us that our happiness is determined by our genes, our external circumstances, and our intentional activities:

Happiness = Genes (50%) + External Circumstances (10%) + Intentional Activities (40%)

Your genes have the biggest impact on your happiness. However, they’re not changeable and therefore useless in helping you become happier.

External circumstances are almost equally as useless in helping you become happier. They are often hard or impractical to change and only have a small impact on happiness anyway.

Intentional activities – the thoughts you think and actions you take – are the key to lastingly raising your level of happiness. They account for 40 percent of your overall happiness and are completely under your control.

You can choose, on a daily basis (!), whether you want to engage in activities that improve your happiness, or whether you want to engage in activities that lower your happiness.

If you get up early, go for a quick run outside, meditate for ten minutes, eat a healthy breakfast, go to a job that fulfills you, and then spend the night with your family… you’ll feel quite happy.

If, on the other hand, you hit the snooze button, grumpily crawl out of bed, spend your time at a job you hate, and then watch TV once you get home… you’ll feel rather unhappy.

It’s that simple. Your happiness lies in your daily activities.

Thankfully, research knows exactly which activities help you become happier and which don’t…

Proven Activities that Will Make You Happier

Over the last few months, I have been a bit obsessed with finding strategies that can make people lastingly happier. I have spent a lot of time reading books and articles on the subject until I’ve eventually come up with a list of 26 proven, science-based ways to become happier.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Have a Rich Social Life and Nurture Social Relationships
  2. Let Go of Materialism
  3. Spend Your Money to Maximize Happiness (Hint: Spend it on experiences, not goods. And on other people, not yourself.)
  4. Make Happy Choices (Be a Satisficer, Not a Maximizer)
  5. Stop Overthinking
  6. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
  7. Practice Gratitude
  8. Learn to Cope with Negative Events or Chronic Problems
  9. Practice Forgiveness
  10. Cultivate Optimism
  11. Pursue Meaningful Life Goals
  12. Experience More “Flow”
  13. Savor the Good Things in Your Life
  14. Practice Mindfulness
  15. Meditate
  16. Exercise Regularly
  17. Act Like a Happy Person
  18. Practice Acts of Kindness
  19. Use Your Signature Strengths
  20. Find Something to Look Forward to
  21. Stop Watching the News
  22. Spend Time in Nature
  23. Write Your Way to Happiness
  24. Get a Pet
  25. Learn More About Happiness
  26. Just Try to Become Happier.

If you would like to see a complete breakdown and detailed explanations and instructions for all 26 strategies, feel free to check out my complete guide on happiness here: How to Be Happy: 26 Strategies Backed by Research.

Conclusion

Happiness isn’t achieved by changing our genetic makeup (which is impossible) or changing our external circumstances (which is often hard and impractical), but in changing our behavior on a daily basis.

This is great news, because it means that your happiness really lies in your own hands. You have the power to make yourself happy or unhappy. You’re in the driver seat.

If you want more happiness, do the things that entitle you to greater happiness.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below, and I’ll happily answer them.

 

This is a guest post by Nils Salzgeber. He is a lifestyle coach and co-founder of njlifehacks.com, a blog dedicated to helping people live a better life through relentless self-improvement. Nils is on his journey to becoming the greatest version of himself and loves sharing what he learns along the way.

 

Why you’re unhappy

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Why you’re unhappy

There can be many reasons for why you’re unhappy. In the post I will list the most common reasons for unhappiness. These come from stories and examples that my clients have related to me.

Overthinking

I wholeheartedly agree with the saying, “when you’re in your mind you’re in enemy territory”. We tend to default to the negative and spend time worrying over things that may never happen. Limit your “what if” thinking and remember thoughts aren’t facts.

Denial

Facing the truth can be painful and threatening and many of us suppress the reality of what is going on around us. Thing is, until we face up to things we will still be unhappy even when we pretend everything is fine. Cognitive dissonance (when we possess conflicting beliefs, attitudes or behaviours) will emerge when we are in denial and not living the life we feel is the right one for us.

Negative filter

When we only focus on all that is wrong we tend to see a very bleak picture of the world. Learn to be more appreciative of the good things too, no matter how small.

Playing it too safe

When we live in our comfort zone and never try new things, it can lead us to feeling stagnant and without meaning or purpose. Get out there and experiment. Set yourself some goals…Be brave.

Living by too many ‘rules’

When we have too many rules for living we tend to be more unhappy. The more rules we have the easier they are broken, causing stress and anxiety. Learn to identify your rules for living and challenge them. They often take the form of “if this…then that”, For example: If I don’t please others, no one will like me. Some rules for living create utter misery. The less you have the better.

Taking life and yourself too seriously

A sense of humour is a great weapon to alleviate unhappiness. See the funny side, try to relax and enjoy life rather than seeing everything as a catastrophe.

Trying to control things beyond your control

There is a huge distinction between what we can and what we can’t control. Make sure you know the difference.

Remember the serenity prayer:

grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Non acceptance of uncertainty

No one has 100% certainty in life – learn to work with it rather than against it. Acceptance and tolerance of uncertainty is helpful for happiness levels.

Comparisons

When you buy into the image others let you see, you can end up feeling inadequate. What you see on the outside though is an incomplete picture of the full reality. Don’t be taken in by what others show you – Facebook is the worst platform for this. Learn to focus on your own life and where you want to be rather than loking at false comparisons.

As you can see, there can be many reasons as to why you’re unhappy….the above are just a few. Learn to be psychologically flexible, laugh more and live in the moment for increased happiness and contentment.

Mandy X