Science has progressed quite a lot in the past few decades than ever before, and now it provides a lot of research based data for us to read and understand the biological reasoning behind every human emotion. Research in positive psychology has made great strides in clarifying what exactly makes us happy. Through internet and social media, we have a better access to such information. And yet, we don’t seem to be any happier than we were a generation ago. In fact, statistics show that more and more of us are suffering from clinical depression and anxiety—and that teens are the ones most affected by these.
How do we explain this paradox and what are some simple things we can undertake to bring happiness back into our lives?
Below are some habits that you can take for a happier life:
- Focus on Long Term Happiness
Sometimes some moments might give you short bursts of happiness but these moments might be the result of situations that are unhealthy for you, such as, addictions. For instance, having a dose of drug is momentary happiness for a drug addict, but in the long run not only does it deteriorate his health completely but also cause problems in his relationship with his family and friends. So, if we focus on building a meaningful life in which we act authentically, are guided by our core values, and the things that intrinsically inspire us, we can achieve a lasting happiness. For instance, for a painter, his paintings are a source of inspiration that keeps him motivated and inspires him to improve his skills. Similarly, for a musician producing great music is what makes him happy. The feeling may not be as intense as a momentary high, but it is deeper and worth so much more.
- Build and Nurture a Support Network
All of us need support, love, care and people who reciprocate our trust. It’s a hidden secret no more that loving and fulfilling relationships with people close to us make us happier and healthier. Unbreakable bonds make us feel good about ourselves and that feeling creates internal happiness. So focus on deepening your relationships by supporting others, especially your family, and be more willing of letting your friends in instead of being distant with them.
- Savor the Good Times
We forget the good moments or miss them entirely because we are stressing about some problems which then become a quick route to depression and anxiety. Our happiness is in our own hands and to achieve that we need to train our mind to deliberately focus on the positive aspects of our daily life, such as, a hug from a spouse, a goal accomplished, a pretty bird chirping on a tree outside the window, or a nice greeting from a friend or colleague in the morning. It has also been proven that we can extend our happiness and joy of our special times by just thinking about them, capturing these moments in our hearts and cameras to display on our desk, social media, our home, or by just talking about them to others.
- Be in Control
A key piece of this puzzle is autonomy. We all have a natural need to feel in control of our own lives. If we feel that the situations occurring in our life are out of our hands, being happy becomes sort of a challenge. But the feeling that a caring and benevolent higher power has our best interest at heart and that everything happens for a good reason can allow the fear-focused parts of our mind to let go and relax. If we are not religious or spiritual, we can still feel a sense of control by trusting in our support network, or in our own ability to adapt and learn new skills. Focusing on past successes can help as well. This is the idea behind wilderness camps or empowerment weekends that end with a fire walk. But you don’t have to go to extremes to feel competent and in control—simply setting some specific, manageable goals and tracking your progress in accomplishing them can have a similar effect.
- Always Do Something Different And Challenging
When we have an idea of how things need to be in order for us to be happy, we actually end up limiting our happiness. Similarly, if we keep doing the same things over and over again, never challenging ourselves, hedonistic adaptation will kick in and we will find ourselves stuck in a rut. Our brains naturally seek out novelty and challenge. Happiness creeps up on us in unexpected ways, when we find something new and interesting, or when we just go with the flow and let things unfold. Another way to create happiness is to look at familiar things in a new light.
All these habits mentioned above can help you in gaining a happier and healthier life, and a stronger relationship with people who are a part of it. Do whatever you feel will give you a sense of being and a purpose, life is too short to spend it on a monotonous routine. So, take every challenge and opportunity presented to you and make the most of it to experience that untainted joy and unrefined happiness, focus on your long term happiness, savor all the precious moments that occur in your life, and be in control of your life, you will never be sad ever again.