What Is Happiness
Happiness, we know it when we feel it, and we often use the term to describe a range of emotions, including joy, contentment and gratitude.
I believe positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky best describes happiness in her book, The How of Happiness. She defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
But happiness is a mercurial emotion. It can ebb and flow our entire life. At times it feels like the harder you try to find it, the more elusive it becomes.
So, what can we do when we are on the ebbing side of happiness?
Here are five simple steps to happiness:
1. Find Your Unique Happiness
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to happiness. You need to take time to really understand yourself and what it takes to make you feel happy and content. This means reconnecting with your values, strengths and your purpose to build a solid foundation for your journey to happiness. Then, let them guide you to a life that aligns with them.
2. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude may be difficult when you are in a funk but it works! Multiple studies have shown it to be one of the most powerful deeds we can engage in. Sonja Lyubomirsky says, “Gratitude is a great way to consider what’s good about your life, instead of focusing on what’s not good or what other people have that you don’t. Lots of people say it’s hokey to count your blessings, and I’m actually one of them, but the payoff is tremendous.”
I practice gratitude everyday and it is so easy. I focus on the gift of a new day and my family, pets and friends. Take time to determine what makes you grateful and when life throws you a curve ball, start thinking about all of those things. For more inspiration, read my blog post–7 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude Daily.
3. Embrace the Power of Positive Thinking
Happy people seem to have a special quality that enables them to live a better life than the average. Can you guess what it is? It’s positive thinking!
A large portion of your happiness comes from how you decide to perceive the world and positive thinking is tremendously important. You practice positive thinking by:
- Cultivating optimism
- Practicing deliberate acts of kindness
- Forgiving those who may have hurt you
- Recognizing problems that you are faced with and believing in your power to overcome them
A personal example of positive thinking is demonstrated in this blog post on my autoimmune disease. Instead of dwelling on all of the negative effects of my disease, I focus on the positive: 5 Positive Ways Autoimmune Disease Changed My Life
4. Nurture Your Relationships
We are happiest when our loved ones surround us. That’s why it is critical that you make the time to build and sustain strong, meaningful relationships with the people you love. Just a little time spent with your family and friends can go a long way.
5. Slow Down And Be Still
Happiness may be trying to find you but your fast-paced lifestyle might be making it difficult. Take time to slow down and to simply be. Use the time to reflect and connect with yourself in a deeper way. But it’s not enough to just slow down — you need to be mindful of the present. Focus on your actions, on your environment, on others around you. This takes some practice but is necessary when pursuing happiness.
In short, if you slow down long enough and reflect, practice gratitude and cultivate a positive perspective, your contentment might just come then and there.
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