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Psychologist Finds The 3 Elements That Determine Our Happiness

Psychologist Finds The 3 Elements That Determine Our Happiness

Modern culture is full of ‘fool’s gold’; there are so many shiny promises to distract us and make hollow promises of success and satisfaction. However, the reality is more often than not quite the opposite. The mass media tells us that if we are rich, if we have a nice house filled with things, a nice car, if we are thin, eternally young, dressed expensively, made up flawlessly; that these things are what will make us happy and accomplished.

Psychologists have established that there are three main things that contribute to a person’s happiness and well being. These are the basic principles of a concept known as ‘self determination theory’. This theory exemplifies the difference between having intrinsic versus extrinsic goals that lead to your eventual happiness. Aiming for material wealth, unattainable youth and other people’s approval (extrinsic goals) is misleading and ultimately shallow, leaving you dissatisfied. Focusing instead on virtues you can embody beyond the material; those that allude to your character, emotional maturity and altruism (intrinsic goals) give you the tools to experience a more rich and meaningful life.

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The three principles of self determination theory are as follows:

1. Autonomy

Research quoted in Business Insider Australia suggests that intrinsic goals, our internal desires and qualities are what need to be nurtured in order for happiness to be manifested and made permanent in our lives.

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“The results: The folks who realised (sic) their intrinsic goals had high levels of happiness, but the people who attained their extrinsic goals didn’t have an improvement in their subjective well-being. The authors theorize that they might feel momentarily satisfied after reaching such a goal, but it doesn’t last.” Drake Baer, Why Chasing ‘Extrinsic Goals’ Can Wreck Your Happiness, Business Insider Australia.

Aiming for instant gratification over long term goals, not only sets people up for failure, it exhausts their efforts and robs them of their desire and motivation to seek happiness. They settle for being miserable instead.

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When you feel like a person who is in charge of their own life; who can make autonomous decisions and has the freedom and independence to be your most authentic self, your path to happiness is mapped out. People who feel that they have a voice and a presence, who are not bound or restricted by convention or others’ expectations are simply happier.

2. Competence

We are born with certain traits and abilities that can determine what some people call our ‘destiny’. However we all want opportunity. Equal access to education, to free movement, to employment, to basic human needs like shelter, food, water and safety. Happiness is determined by how freely we can acquire not only survival skills, but competence and being accomplished at skills that we not only need to survive, but also desire. Skills that allow us to express ourselves intellectually, artistically, politically and comically. Learning new things increases happiness.

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3. Relatedness

The way we interact with others in our lives is the most important factor to our happiness. Without realizing it, most people have relationships purely out of obligation. It is only the strongest people who truly experience pure connections with like minded people. If you conquer the first two traits and are self determined and evolved, you start to identify the toxic people in your life and you make changes. The more your intrinsic goals are achieved, the more naturally and easily you shed the people who are holding you back in your life. The ones who rob you of your happiness. We often feel obligated to family, relatives, old friends, work colleagues; people who we don’t necessarily choose to be in our lives, but who are there simply by chance. True happiness is achieved when you develop the maturity to understand that you have the right to determine the people who are worthy of you and who deserve a place in your life.

Featured photo credit: viralnovelty.net via viralnovelty.net

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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