Films are made about it, books are written about it, scientists study it, countries dedicate funds to it, and it’s the one thing we all want — no, it’s not sex or money, what I’m talking about is happiness! Given its amazing physical, social, and mental benefits, happiness has been found to improve health, relationships, and creativity. So, the pursuit of happiness can only be a good thing. Plus it’s free! So here is how to get truly happy now and to start reaping the fabulous rewards right away.
1. Capitalize on Positive Events
Ask a friend, partner, colleague, or acquaintance to tell you about something good that happened to them that day. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as they enjoyed it. While they are sharing the event, actively listen — that means really listen and be engaged by making eye contact, smiling, asking open-ended questions, and making positive comments. You will be amazed at how natural this feels once you get into the moment. Notice how your encouragement is increasing the other person’s positivity by making them feel cared about — it feels good, right? Not only that, but talking about the event together is also a positive experience which will enhance your relationship. Research has shown that romantic partners who responded to each other’s news of positive events in this active-constructive style reported greater relationship wellbeing and were less likely to break up two months later.
2. Practice Random Acts of Kindness
This involves doing five kind things in one day and then writing about them. First of all, think of the kind acts that you have been the recipient of. Next, reflect on the kind acts you already do. Now, note five acts you want to do and the day that you will do them. When you have completed your acts of kindness, write down what you did and how they made you feel for an extra boost. Chances are you will want to do it again. Research shows this practise makes us feel happier because it makes us think more highly of ourselves and we become more aware of other positive social interactions, which also increases happiness. Note: Do not do the same act over and over again — it will start to feel less special.
3. Practice Forgiveness
We all have hurts and betrayals that we ruminate about at times. Choosing to forgive is a way to release the distress that arises time and time again from the memory of these incidents. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget or even reconcile. Instead, it is about changing your attitude toward the original pain so that it can no longer hurt you.
To practice forgiveness, you need to commit to your personal healing, recognize your distress is coming from your feelings and thoughts, remind yourself that you can hope for positive things and work hard to get them, decide to make some positive goals to put your energy into, focus on what is good in your life right now, and change the way you think of the past.
Forgiveness can take some time, but it is worth it. Researchers at the University of Miami found that forgiveness is linked to increased life satisfaction, more positive emotions, less negative emotions, and fewer symptoms of physical illness. The same group of researchers also found that forgiving on one day is linked to higher happiness the very next day.
4. Cultivate Optimism
For this, try the “best possible self” exercise. Take a moment to imagine your life in the future and make it the best you can possibly imagine. Consider everything: career, relationships, hobbies, health, spirituality, and academia. What would happen in your best future? For fifteen minutes, write about what you imagine and be as creative as you like. Research suggests that building optimism about the future motivates people to work towards their goals. This makes the desired future more likely to become a reality. You are not only increasing your happiness in the present, you are also paving the way for sustained happiness down the line. This exercise also teaches you what you want, helps you to restructure your priorities, and increases your sense of control over your life.
5. Savour the moment
Whatever you are doing, be it looking at a sunset, playing with your dog, or eating a piece of chocolate, really be present and appreciate the moment right here and right now. No thinking about anything else. Absorb yourself fully into it and notice what you are seeing or hearing, any sensations such as the breeze on your skin or the feeling of something soft in your hands. Take time to become aware of how you are feeling in this moment. If there is a mood present, what is it? Enjoying the small things in life helps us to build up a beautiful memory bank, and being truly present keeps us content.
So, what are you waiting for? Hurry up and get happy!
Featured photo credit: SayLuiiiis via flickr.com