Are you happy?
The question posed is arguably a very enigmatic one, at least to most people! So instead of trying to understand how am I rating on the happiness chart, I shall try to find out the secrets behind living a meaningful life.
Apparently, we were all born with something called the ‘happiness set point’ - this theory suggests that 50% of our subjective well-being is linked to our genetics and the things we were exposed to early in life, 40% is related to intentional activities (the stuff we do to make ourselves happy) and the remaining 10% is purely circumstantial (what happens to us in life).
We can’t alter the genetics set point; if you belong to the category that was born happy, congratulations you are already one step ahead. The good news is, according to science, you can actually learn how to be happy.
At some point, we are all going to face something that is out of our control - the loss of a dear one, the break up of a marriage, redundancy, illness etc. However, how we choose to behave when faced with these situations is up to us. And guess what? Remember that 40% linked to intentional activities? That will determine how you react when a difficult scenario comes into play.
Great - I have a feeling that I have done nothing but sabotage my own happiness so far. Most of the time, my head is so clouded that whenever I get annoyed with something, I despair. I can sulk for days.
Happiness is an attitude of mind, born of the simple determination to be happy under all outward circumstances. J. Donald Walters
The power of self-acknowledgement, is to recognize your flaws - we all have them. In my case, I have a terrible tendency for drama, which most of my friends think is hilarious, except it's not. Sometimes, when I picture myself angry, this is what I see - a little girl who is not having her way and decides to start screaming - that’s right! I was never like that when I was a child (ask my mother), so how on earth did I become such a selfish adult?
Well, I have read and I am still reading tons of articles, books, studies etc on the pursuit of happiness. Interestingly I have noted that, in one way or another, they all say the same thing: everything matters mentally! Therefore, be aware of your thoughts. We are the result of what we expose ourselves to - books, movies, music, food, people etc.
What I have learned so far from my quest is that, in theory, we can all rewire our brains to be happy. How is up to you! There are no secrets - happiness is what you choose to be.
"I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude". - Brene Brown
However, there are a bunch of stuff that you can do to increase your well-being (every book, podcast, article etc on the subject will teach you different ways) - I choose to start with the little things first.
What works for me:
Mind set is important. Shit happens - It’s okay to be angry for 30 seconds, any longer than that and we may lose our ability to think clearly. Problems are a constant in life and so are solutions.
Take deep breaths - I love this one! Whenever I feel I am about to lose control I breathe, it works every time. Meditation is also a powerful tool, practice regularly and enjoy the benefits of it, even if it's for just 5 minutes a day.
Smile! Smile some more...there it goes, keep on smiling :) It may sound silly but smiles are contagious.
Be grateful - practicing gratitude is not just a wonderful thing but one that helps us embed feelings of positivity in our brains.
Make time for the things and people you love - reading, watching movies, exercising, dinner with friends etc.
Avoid overthinking and social comparison - that’s a hard one for most of us, especially in this day and age but I am getting better...
Hopefully, if we apply these small but powerful attitudes to our daily life, it won’t be too long before we all start feeling jolly:)
Go be happy!