The Eternal Search for Happiness
How does one achieve more happiness? Many people mistakenly seek happiness by trying to make more money to acquire more things when money is a rather poor predictor of happiness. Once your basic needs are met (food, shelter, education) money no longer plays a significant role. That said, here are a few strategies for you to increase your level of happiness:
- Accept Painful Emotions: This may sound counterintuitive but having a wide range of emotions is a good thing, this includes the painful ones. All emotions provide us with useful information that is necessary for our growth. Experiencing struggle affords us the ability to really savor the good times by comparison. Sometimes the greatest memories are a mixture of both. If you are among the many who enjoyed the recent box office hit “Inside Out” you will recall this as an important conclusion. While you might be tempted to try and block painful emotions, we tend to not be very good at this and the ironic result is that we end up blunting our positive emotions in the process.
- Time Affluence: Simply put, time affluence is the feeling that you have enough time to do what you want to do. This includes quality time spent with loved ones, friends, hobbies, and relaxing. Time poverty on the other hand is something that most people would say they understand quite well. Rushing around, not having enough time for yourself, overworked, and the anxiety associated with such. We recommend finding ways to cut down on commitments so that you will have more time affluence.
- Physical Exercise: It is common knowledge that exercise is good for you. But did you know that it is also good for your mind? Physical exercise causes a release of endorphins which can make you feel better, even happy! Some researchers have shown that exercise can function as an antidepressant and that it can have a longer lasting result than medication alone. So why not take a walk outside on your lunch break rather than sitting at your desk?
- Gratitude: Being grateful is a strong predictor of happiness. But be mindful, there is a difference between thinking we are grateful and showing thanks. Sharing those thankful thoughts has a greater effect on you (and the person you are sharing it with) than simply thinking it. Try introducing a little more gratitude into your life by keeping a gratitude journal, saying your appreciative out loud, or by writing a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life.
- Simplify: Consider doing less rather than more. Focus on one task at a time. Being efficient with your time does not necessarily mean multitasking. Multitasking has actually been shown to reduce efficiency. Although we think we are doing multiple things at once, what we are actually doing is switching our attention between tasks. This results in lost time, extra energy spent, and a reduction in overall efficiency. Try and reduce the noise of modern life by turning off your phone when engaging in other activities or limiting the number of times you check your email.
As you try these suggestions, observe what works for you and what does not. We encourage you to be mindful of how your expectations for how things “should” make you happy may trip you up in this process. And if you would like some help to increase your feelings of happiness in your life, give us a call at (514) 223-5327. We would be more than happy to help!
Written by: Robin Jolivet M.A.