Can we expect to just be happy? Sometimes it just happens and we often feel happy due to some kind of stimulus. So if we have a good night out, watch something that inspires us, notice how much we love someone or we just feel content in a specific moment.
There are so many more theories and studies on resolving unhappiness and problems than there are on than creating happiness. We are more motivated to act when there are problems rather than nurture good levels of happiness and well-being. We all have our own level of happiness and this fluctuates above or below our baseline. if we all have our own bassline of happiness, if something good happens or we feel good, happiness levels rise and then return to our baseline. Really good things create a higher peak in the same way bad things happening create an appropriate dip depending on how much it affects us. As a point of interest, studies have shown that a big windfall such as a lottery win, creates a big peak of happiness which over time not only falls back to the bassline of where it was, but actually goes lower than it was before.
So what can we do to ensure our happiness baseline is at a good level for us. Common strategies that fail: –
· Ignoring or suppressing problems and insecurities. These are part of our normal lives which we all have the ability to cope with, but if we ignore them, they fester and build into something much bigger than they are.
· Seeking pleasure. This brings us hits of momentary happiness and can contribute to our overall happiness levels but over-reliance can leave us feeling empty. If pleasure seeking creates a false happiness (through alcohol or another substance) then we’re going to feel lower in the succeeding days. Immediate pleasure does not give us the depth and fulfilment we need to create a good level of general happiness.
So what would work for us. Research tells us that living our values and leading a meaningful life is the path to good levels of happiness. This means something different to each individual and to articulate this with more clarity, we’ve broken down some of the key areas that can contribute to personal happiness.
Self-Care. These are the things we know help us feel good. So, eating well, exercising, ensuring we sleep well and taking time to relax
Self-respect. If we have self-respect, we tend to care for ourselves well and feel a greater sense of happiness. This also means that we have boundaries where we show others what we will and won’t accept from them. If we allow others to walk all over us, there will be people who will do this.
Treating ourselves with love. Being kind and fair to ourselves. This can be in through our behaviours so we do things we love to do and care for ourselves well to how we think about ourselves also. If, through our self-talk we’re overly critical, it’s going to be hard to feel good about ourselves.
Fulfilment. Ensuring we have fulfilling elements in our lives that we can engage in. The things that give us a sense of purpose and direction. This can include ensuring we engage in work that we find fulfilling. It can come from giving and helping others. It can also be upholding our roles in life well such as being a good parent, son/daughter, friend or partner.
Acceptance. Seeking to accept the realities of life and to live in the present can aid our sense of happiness significantly. Mindfulness can be a valuable tool.
Support. Having a good support network and using it well can allow us to feel happier. Knowing we are there for others and that we have the support of others is helpful enough but ensuring we talk and express ourselves as well as engage and enjoy ourselves with others can contribute hugely to our overall happiness levels.
As humans, our health and happiness are our responsibility which cannot be passed to anyone else.
As always, comments are invited as is the notion of You looking after You well.