Let me start by asking you this, are you having a good day or a bad day? Why? Take a moment to think about it. Whether we have a good day or a bad day depends on our “why”.
What is happiness? Most scientists agree it’s our life satisfaction and positive affect, together known as “subjective wellbeing”.
What does happiness look like? When we think of happy people, often what comes to mind is people who are able to live in the moment, enjoy life everyday, regularly exercise, have hope for the future, are friendly and helpful, have strong social connections, able to cope with life challenges, have a strong sense of purpose, and so on.
What makes us happy? Scientists explain that 50% of our capacity to be happy is due to genetics, 40% due to our intentional activities, 10% due to life circumstances. So essentially, 40% of our happiness is entirely within our control. We can increase our choice to be happy more often and likewise take part in intentional activities that can make us feel happy. This in turn, can help change our path towards manifesting a happier life, therefore influencing that remaining 10% margin of our life circumstances. That means, it’s possible to convert 50% of our happiness capacity to within our own control. We have the ability to create happiness.
We often say, I’ll be happy when I graduate, when I get that job, when I have my own place… But it’s important to recognize that you can do things to feel happy today. Don’t wait for that when. Happiness is a choice and a mindset to practice everyday.
“Nothing changes if nothing changes” – Albert Einstein.
Here are a few suggestions on how to increase happiness:
- Expressing gratitude (gratitude journaling, being thankful for the little things)
- Practicing optimism (finding the positive in something negative)
- Avoiding social comparison (comparison is the thief of joy!)
- Performing acts of kindness
- Nurturing relationships and social connections
- Learning to forgive (let go of the past, consider writing a letter but not necessarily mailing it out!)
- Savouring positive experiences (positive memories that make you smile, sharing a positive event with others, remembering the sound of the ocean)
- Practicing self-care (regular exercise, eating healthy and mindfully, drinking enough water, meditation, etc.)
You are the only one in the way of generating your own happiness. Stay motivated everyday, and take small steps in a positive direction. In scientific terms, the more we stop and recognize positive moments all around us, the more we tap into neuroplasticity and use our prefrontal cortex to actively choose to be happy, and the less we use our amygdala- our reactive stress centre. We need to make happiness a priority in our lives.
Below are just a few of the benefits of being happy:
- Strong immune systems
- Rich networks of social support
- Resilience during life challenges
- Physically healthy
- Longer life expectancy
- Reported higher engagement at work
- Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
- And many more!
So what are you waiting for? Take a small first step: positive emotions help fuel more positive emotions, like a positive feedback loop. Some people find committing to self care and mindfulness practices at the beginning of the day can help set you up for an overall more positive, happy day. Recognize things that make you feel good and use those tools regularly when you notice you feel tense or stressed to actively control negative thoughts and feelings. Also, choose to focus less on creating happiness from materialistic things- happiness often comes from rather focusing on authentic, irreplaceable things in life like your health, social relationships, nature, and making positive memories.
I hope you find this useful and start to generate your own happiness!
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