What are the Keys to Happiness and becoming happier?
What are the Keys to Happiness? How can We Become Happier?
We all want to be happy! Don’t we? Of course! We all want to find inner happiness and live in a happy world; but, how do we do this? What are the keys to happiness? Looking at ways we can achieve that inner happiness for which we all strive.
Yes, we all want happiness! Some strive for it, some numb out the pain to achieve it. Either way- it is a common goal, want and NEED to be met differently by different people. Where do we find it? For some it comes with working one’s fingers to the bone, burning the midnight oil, spending all one’s time at work. Maybe we think we will find it through social media ‘likes’ and ‘followers’, getting that “Instagram Dopamine Rush”. It could be through hobbies, exercise or sport. Possibly through food or people. Maybe it’s spending time with our families and loved ones, or having a fulfilled spiritual life. Maybe we not searching for it but rather numbing out our unhappiness by excessive drinking, partying or drugs. Whatever is going on in your life- we all want happiness. We all searching for it in different ways, but are we actually achieving it?
There are so many different antidotes out there and increasing amounts of knowledge and advice, but each one of us is completely different: different backgrounds, upbringings, personalities- hell, just having different DNA should say it all. Because of this, what works for one might not be the same for another. There is, however, enough research and science that should lead us along a pretty good path to find the happiness for which you are searching. You may have heard about the science of happiness? Now, this blog is not a complete guide- but hopefully, it helps.
I can speak from experience, I had to work really hard to find happiness. I needed to look behind many bushes, but sure as anything- my pursuit led me to a place of euphoria and the joy for which I was searching. So, from my experience (and a whole lot of research)…
Keys to Happiness:
In previous blogs, I discussed the importance of looking after your health and wellness. When we look after the different aspects of our body, our overall health and wellness-our mood and mind- physically changes. These aspects include the food we eat, exercising, being outdoors, drinking clean water, getting enough good quality sleep, talking to someone about our heart, mind & emotions, finding God and spirituality, mindfulness and meditation and having heartfelt and true relationships.
When all of these aspects are being looked after; our body, our DNA, our mind and brain physically changes. Our body starts to release good and beneficial chemicals, hormones and neurotransmitters. We start changing from the inside out. Feeling healthier, the end result shining from the inside out and others can’t help but notice this change. We actually get a spring in our step and it can become infectious. Let the natural drugs of life be released and start taking effect, instead of any drug the world may give you. Now, saying this, if you are on prescription medication- always consult your doctor before removing yourself off anything. The drugs of the world can have negative side-effects. Keeping our remedies natural puts us in control of the healing process. This is not to say that medication does not hold its place in the world, too.
I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “have an attitude of gratitude”. I had a giant post-it stuck onto my computer screen, for all to see, for about a year when I was in my 20s and working in a massive firm. My hope was that it would stick in my mind, and in others, on a daily basis. When we think of gratitude, we all have different thoughts that pop into our minds and each one evokes a different emotion. When I think of gratitude, it’s an overwhelming sense of saying ‘thank you’ under my breath. Thank you for where I have come from, where I am now and where I am going.
For some people, it’s having grown up writing thank you cards after a birthday or a Christmas. Some people may even have the thought “gratitude, haven’t thought of that for a while”. Some people struggle to say thank you, maybe it wasn’t something they were taught to do or maybe it’s because their pride doesn’t allow them to say those simple but powerful words: “Thank you”.
Regardless of your mindset and belief in the words of gratitude, endless research shows us that there is power in being grateful. Psychologists suggest exercises; such as, spending each day for a couple of weeks writing a few items for which you are grateful –these have been found to increase life satisfaction, decrease worry and improve body image, with the beneficial effects lasting for up to six months. Or, family psychologists suggest sitting around the dinner table and each family member saying one thing that they were grateful for in their day; this has enabled families to build closer relationships of trust and joy. If you are feeling down and glum, stop and think of something good in your life; this will automatically help improve your mood.
A concept worth learning and adopting!
Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and a world authority on gratitude, has advocated that therapists use gratitude mindsets to help their patients flourish. Dr Caroline Leaf discusses how gratitude actually helps you to become more successful. In fact, gratitude changes our brain and body for the better! Research on the effects gratitude has on our bodies, minds and DNA shows how being thankful increases our longevity, our ability to use our imagination, and our ability to problem-solve.
Gratitude even helps us to believe that life is more enjoyable and worth living. Now if you ask me, isn’t that reason enough to learn to be grateful? If it is not something that comes naturally, start building habits in your day where you can learn to be more grateful for all that you have. Start with one thing! If you cannot find one thing to be grateful for, then ask a friend, family member or even a colleague, what it is in your life that you should be grateful for. It’s always easier looking out than it is looking in!
Mindsets & Thinking
What exactly are mindsets? How do they affect our thinking and mould us into we are? Mindset: a person’s way of thinking and their opinions. We all have different mindsets, established by different factors; such as the way we are raised, our parents, siblings, friends, environment and influences. Our mindsets are key to our happiness, our success and the key to the above- our gratitude. It is crucial that you start doing a mental autopsy on yourself and figuring out the mindsets to keep and nurture and the ones to cut away. Those to cutaway would be greed, victim-mentality, jealousy, anger, hatred, comparison, isolation, pride (the arrogant, selfish kind), always having to be right, always putting yourself first and more…
Our mindsets are key to our thinking patterns and our behaviour. Everything we do is based on our mindsets; how our thinking is wired and where our mindsets lie is key to how we view the world and us in it.
Learning & Pursuing
As we age, we need to keep learning, inquiring and pursuing knowledge and skills. This enables joy as our minds grow and push boundaries. Whatever it is we are learning, that skill will help improve our longevity and help give our minds a sense of purpose and achievement. Learning new skills literally makes us happy. Maybe it is a sport, an activity like a card game or chess, birding or scuba diving- it doesn’t matter. Just keep your minds growing! Learning increases our self-esteem and creativity; it is an active activity and not passive, like watching TV. When we learn it places us in what researchers call, “the Zone” or “Flow” where we get so engrossed in our activity that we lose the concept of time and space.
We become consumed by our new sphere of learning; this also helps change the structure of our brain- our brain’s connections and neurons are changed by our new skills & knowledge. This process is called neoplasticity, where, as we age and as we continue to pursue learning, our brain keeps developing and changing for the good. This is why it is imperative to never stop learning, never stop the pursuit of acquiring new information because it literally keeps our brain young.
Volunteering & Community
We constantly running against the clock and wondering where the time has gone. I often say, ‘if only there were more hours in the day’. Giving of ourselves and our time can sometimes be a real struggle. But volunteering and being involved in the community is actually beneficial to our health and happiness. Unfortunately, most of us brush it off because we don’t have time. These are just some of the benefits you will receive: it connects you to others, it is good for your mind and body, it brings fun and fulfilment to your life, it helps change others lives.
The Mayo Clinic explains that researchers have found the benefits that volunteers receive include positive feelings referred to as helper’s high, increased trust in others and increased social interaction. From lowering stress to boosting self-confidence, research has shown that volunteering offers many health benefits, especially for older adults. It even helps decrease the risk of depression and it may even help you to live longer. Look for any project in your area, whether it’s through a church, school or a community centre- there will be somewhere you are needed. Maybe you’ve been mulling over an idea and all you needed to do was start it?
Goals & Purpose
Goals give us direction in life; they help us to understand our desires and set us along the path to the success we want. Helping to give our lives purpose and distinct meaning; encapsulating our values and driving us to the finish line. They propel us forward and help us stay accountable, even if it is just to ourselves. They are our road map to a future we have planned and dreamed of; without them, we are wandering in the woods of life, not sure of where our destination is. When we reach short term or long term goals in our lives, it gives us an incredible sense of accomplishment and happiness. When we reach our goals and purposes in life, it brings joy and happiness that we worked hard and achieved the results we desired.
We all in this together!
We all want the same thing in the end and that is to be happy and for our lives to have meaning, but are we achieving this desire? Are we happy, and are we doing something about it if we are not? Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time, it’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it! Keep your eye’s on the prize and the journey is more enjoyable!