The holidays can be a exceptionally wonderful and joyous time of year, but for some it can also be one of the most difficult times too. Over-booked schedules, financial concerns, and even the weather can play a role in just how happy you are. But happiness is a gift that we should be receiving every day of the year, not just during the holidays.
So what is happiness? Where can we find it? And once we do, how can we keep it?
According to experiencelife.com, researchers are turning their attention toward the mechanics and chemistry of happiness, which they define as the emotional experience of having a pleasant, engaged and meaningful life. Their findings are having a dramatic impact not just on the field of psychology, but also on the way many of us are cultivating happiness in our own lives.
Happiness hinges on our choices, attitudes and thoughts — and when we know more about how these choices, attitudes and thoughts affect the quality of our lives, we have a powerful recipe for cooking up more lifelong joy, meaning and satisfaction.
Here are five ways to practice happiness:
Your Mental Game Matters, So Shift Your Thinking.
The more you understand your thinking style and beliefs, the more you are able to see the inaccuracies for what they are and be less affected by them.
Happiness Practice: Pay attention to your instinctive emotional responses and begin consciously challenging the negative thoughts and limiting belief systems that underlie them. Develop a self-calming or hopeful mental mantra (“Everything is an opportunity.”, “I get to choose my responses.”, “This, too, shall pass.”) to get you through anxiety-ridden moments.
Don’t Count On More Money To Make You Happier.
Research shows factors such as meaningful relationships with family and friends and a sense of duty and purpose outside ourselves are equally important in determining overall happiness as money. Lacking those things, no amount of money is going to up your happiness quotient. Materialism is a reliable way to drive your happiness downward.
Happiness Practice: If you’re compromising your close relationships, authentic priorities or sense of inner purpose in the pursuit of material wealth, it’s time to refocus your energy. Make a list of your core values and the experiences that matter most to you, then start building more of them into your schedule and budget, even if it means making some financial sacrifices in other areas.
Apply Yourself To Whatever You Do.
One of the crucial ingredients of a happy life is “flow.” A person can cultivate flow whether organizing paint cans in the basement or preparing a seminal speech for a big client at work. Entering a state of flow requires no more than presence, a problem-solving attitude and the conviction that you are going to do the best job you can at the task at hand.
Happiness Practice: Regularly stretch your skills and abilities as well as be willing to give your full attention and intelligence to whatever you’re working on (or playing at) at the moment.
Embrace Virtues, And Enjoy Rewards.
One of the most profound — and profoundly simple — tenets of positive psychology is that happiness is found not only through individual thoughts and behaviors, but also by connecting to a wider purpose and contributing to the well-being of others.
Happiness Practice: Make a point of doing considerate, loving, and generous things for others (“random acts of kindness”) daily. Seize every opportunity to do the right thing and to express gratitude for kindnesses you receive.
Focus On Relationships And Cultivate the Community.
What do the happiest people have in common? Positive social relationships. Happy people cultivate friendships and tend to be married or in relationships.
Happiness Practice: Make some time every day to connect with the important people in your life. Establish some weekly or other regular rituals that give you opportunities to interact with others in meaningful ways.