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20 Facts About Happiness That Will Surely Impress You

20 Facts About Happiness That Will Surely Impress You

Are you obsessively taking your happiness pulse? Do you even know what makes you happy anymore? I’m not talking about a happy day, happy hour, or happily-ever-after Hollywood ending. I’m talking about real, honest and true, long-lasting happiness.

Of course, you’ll be happy when that email you received from Google tells you to pack your bags for Silicon Valley—because you got the job you wanted—or when that gorgeous guy or girl sitting across from you at the bar asks for your number.

Surely those are smile-producing events, but after you move to Cali or go out on a few dates with Mr. or Miss Perfect, the smiles fade and you’re left alone with an “okay, now what?” empty feeling.

Maybe you’re stuck in the “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. Do you find yourself thinking, “If only I could move to another city, if only the kids would stop whining so much, and if only I could take that European vacation I’ve been dreaming about, then I will be truly happy”?

Happy people are happy with what they have.

Weddings, awards, love affairs, purses, shoes, or cars make you happy, but that joy is short lived. If you’re looking for real happiness, you might be looking in the wrong place.

These impressive facts about happiness might surprise you.

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1. Happiness is a life-long pursuit.

Awards, achievements, and celebrations are temporary happy moments. “Happily ever after” is hard work that never ends. Live each day as happy as you can. A day lost in misery is gone forever.

2. Look for the good in everything.

Alice Herz-Sommer was a Holocaust survivor who lived for 108 years. When asked how she could be happy after so much tragedy, she said, “I look for the good. I know there is bad, but I look for the good thing.”

3. Stop taking your happiness pulse.

Measuring your happiness doesn’t increase it. It’s like getting on the scales every day when you’re on a diet to discover that you only lost 1/8 lb. You become discouraged. Make happiness an alternative lifestyle, like your new vegan diet.

4. Happiness is a habit.

Pursue it throughout the day. Develop an attitude of happiness. As a athlete trains for a triathlon, sign yourself up for happiness bootcamp and make it your habit. In his book Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar says that happiness is a ritual that must be created, identified, and maintained. If you stick with it, by day 30 you can say hello to your new habit.

According to Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer prize winning staff writer and author of the Power of Habit, there is a three-step neurological process that creates a habit. “Choose a cue (leave your running shoes by the door), then pick a reward (eating chocolate); gradually when you see your running shoes, your brain will start to crave the chocolate, which makes it easier to work out daily.”

5. Happiness is a skill.

Sometimes you have to dig your way out of the smelly garbage bin of life. Learning how to turn a negative response into a positive one requires effort. However, according to cognitive scientists Paul Ekman and Richard Davidson: “The goal is not  to rid oneself or transcend an emotion, not even hatred, but to regulate experience and action once an emotion is felt.” It’s about becoming the manager of your emotions.

6. Happy people are successful.

Most people think success makes you happy, but according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, happiness creates success. Happy people are confident, optimistic, energetic, and sociable. “They are more likely to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health and even a long life.”

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7. Happiness comes from living with purpose.

Do you feel that you are living true to your purpose? Living with purpose causes happiness. Once there was a prisoner who was given the task of turning a faucet every day to water the plants in the garden outside. Every day he turned the handle. After many years, he was released and wanted to see the plants he had been watering. When he asked to see the garden, he was told there were none. Upon hearing that, he collapsed and died.

8. Pay it forward.

If you are buying yourself a coffee and you buy the stranger behind you one too, your happiness will last longer than if you just bought one for yourself. A study in Psychological Science traced the path of the vagus nerve showing how it connects social contact to the positive emotions that come from social interactions. Even simply witnessing an act of kindness can create a peak experience, an awesome, “grateful to be alive” feeling, according to Abraham Maslow, psychologist and researcher.

9. Smile.

“Smiling sends signals to the brain of emotional well-being,” Ron Gutman says in his TED talk. He explains that a smile is beneficial to your health. Smiling may even increase lifespan. Smiling lowers stress hormones and blood pressure. Facial muscles send messages that modify emotional areas of the brain, so stay away from botoxing your smile lines. Surprisingly, smiling stimulates the feel-good areas of the brain more than chocolate and money.

10. Happiness is contagious. 

We are all connected; what we feel affects the people we meet. Watch what happens when you smile at someone who passes you by on the street. If you make eye contact, they will probably smile back. You just delivered positive energy into the soul of another person.

11. Happy people enjoy deep conversations.

Gossip is the talk of negative thinkers. Happy people enjoy deep philosophical conversations that stimulate the intellect. In Psychological Science, Dr. Matthias Mehl reported that in a study he conducted happier people had twice as many conversations as unhappy people.

12. Pets make you happy.

If you have a dog, you know how loved you feel when your dog jumps for joy at the sight of you, but there’s medical proof that your dog is good for your health. Dogs keep you company, force you to walk, lower your blood pressure and are great date magnets. Even looking at your cat curled on top of your computer can reduce your chance of a heart attack, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood. Researcher James E. Gern, MD, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology states that children who grow up around animals have a stronger immune system.

13. Exercise causes happiness.

Physical activity can induce an endorphin-based high. The Mayo Clinic reports seven health benefits of regular exercise: weight control, combating health conditions and diseases, improved mood, boosted energy, better sleep, improved intimacy, and it’s fun.

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14. Certain foods make you happy.

Thanksgiving dinner is over and what’s the first thing you want to do? You’re so tired you can’t keep your eyes open to watch the end of the football game. Everyone knows tryptophan in the turkey did it. Foods affect you. Every sad girl knows that nothing soothes a broken heart like a pint of ice cream. There’s scientific proof.

Neuroscientists from the Institute of Psychiatry in London studied people eating ice cream and found an immediate effect on parts of the brain that activate when people enjoy themselves. It’s also true that junk food makes you miserable. A study suggests that people who eat junk food are more likely to develop depression, to be single, less active and work longer, than those who don’t.

15. Job satisfaction makes you happy.

You spend hours at your desk. Your back hurts and your Fitbit is telling you to start walking. You go home stressed out and exhausted, get a few hours’ sleep, and then start all over again. Is your work meaningful or are you just there to pay the bills? Tal-Ben-Shahar, Harvard professor and author, states that when your work is  purposeful it can be fulfilling, even in routine jobs. Find something meaningful in the menial tasks.

16. Happiness is contagious.

You know how you feel when you walk into the house after a hard day at the office and see a grumpy face standing there to greet you? New research from Harvard Medical School and the University of California (San Diego) suggests that happiness is influenced by people you know and by the people they know. Happiness is so contagious that we can even catch it from social networking. Sadness is also contagious, so be careful who you are friends with on Facebook. Your friends might be making your other friends sad.

17. Money buys happiness/money doesn’t buy happiness.

Money makes you happy but only up to $75,000, according to research by Princeton Professors Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton. Beyond that amount, it all depends on how you define happiness.

When describing overall satisfaction with life, money continues to raise happiness levels. However when happiness is defined as the satisfaction from day-to-day life, more money doesn’t raise happiness.

The bottom line: Having enough money for your necessities provides an overall happy life but does not impact your daily happiness levels.

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18. Happiness is a choice. 

Often it’s a tough choice. You have to forgive when you want revenge, be nice when you want to be angry, give when you want to receive, and get out of bed when all you want to do is lie in it all day watching the last season of Game of Thrones.

19. Dancing causes happiness.

Dance is powerful. JL Hanna, in The Power of Dance: Health and Healing, states that dance strengthens the immune system, eliminates stress and its effects. The American Dance Therapy Association reports in their journal, the AJDT, the several benefits of dance therapy for cancer patients, autism, Parkinson’s Disease, depression, and special needs. Besides what’s better than grabbing an air mike, blasting Pitbull on your iPod, while dancing around the room?

20. Happiness gets better with age.

It’s a fact; the older you get, the happier you become. In Perspective on Psychological Science, researchers found that older people tend to remember the good times more than the sadder ones. Seniors also seek out situations that lift their mood.

Happy people live longer. A study at The Albert Einstein Institute for Aging Research found that the 243 centenarians who participated had a positive attitude towards life. It stated, “They were optimistic, outgoing, and easy going.”

Happiness is simple: Start dancing, get a dog, chat deeply, and smile; you’ll live longer.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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