What makes you happy in life [6 ways to increase your happiness]
It is a title to think (what makes you happy in life) and it is also possible that you doubt, 6 ways to increase happiness? Maybe there are exercises to make me laugh but not to be happy. Others have probably already heard about the course that Tal Ben-Shahar imparts on positive psychology, specifically “gain happiness”. At the beginning, it did not have many students but now, it is one of the elective or optional classes, with more students (approximately 1,400 per period).
I mention the previous example as a reference that, in the words of Ben-Shahar, happiness is not as elusive or elevated as we see it, it is a state that we can choose and the best thing is that it is possible to exercise our mind to discover our innate potential of happiness and use it to our advantage.
Students in these classes say that the practical exercises they have been given have helped them maintain a better mood and thus improve their quality of life.
Another reference in this topic is Shawn Achor, also a researcher who spent 12 years at Harvard and establishes a direct connection between happiness and success. You can see his Ted Talk here.
Shawn argues that many attribute happiness to external factors but that he can only predict 10% of a person’s long-term level of happiness based on their outside world; the other 90% can only be predicted by understanding how the person processes in his brain the world and the events that happen to him/her.
Next, this list of 6 exercises or activities for you to practice daily for a week. In the process, document in a notebook or record audios about your feelings and see what effects these simple practices can have on you. Then choose the ones that cause you the best effect.
# 1 – Pay more attention to the treasures that surround us.
We are sometimes immersed in our routine and act so mechanically that we disconnect from what surrounds us. We miss the world, although we have it right under our noses. Mindfulness is a choice that helps us to be present and to bring back to our mind that wanders anxiously into the future, the yesterday and the can be.
Tip: road to your work or your daily activities look carefully at what is around, the color of the sky, the natural environment, flowers, trees that are on your route; the shapes of some buildings; what the people you see on the street do; when you shower you enjoy the water that falls on your body, how is the temperature, what reactions you have at that moment, what smell predominates. Do something similar while having breakfast or eating, savoring the food, feel the smells, what shades are on your plate; what colors are there in your room?
# 2 – Invest more time in experiences
For many years some advertising sold us the idea that happiness was very related to having, accumulating material things, the biggest house, the most luxurious or modern car, jewelry. However, our brain waves indicate that there is much happiness to enjoy simple and positive experiences such as playing with your child, talking with a friend while having lunch, going for a walk with your family (from a picnic in a park to go to the beach). These are experiences whose monetary value can be low or zero but have a very high impact on our mood.
Professor Leonardo Nicolao and his team investigated and concluded that, although an experience is shorter than the time you can keep a material good, that experience stays with us longer because if it was much enjoyed we relived it mentally or through daily conversations and only the fact of remembering reactivates the sensations of joy.
# 3 Get enough rest
Rest and recreation are part of the basic process of human renewal. The brain requires that you rest to run functions that are essential for optimal personal performance. Even though you know this, how often do you ignore the limits of your body and demand more work and results without the necessary hours of sleep or rest?
There is a phrase that says “fear makes us cowards” and in a week in which I overdid myself for delivering several projects on time, I spent my days wanting to cry. In my case it was not fear, the exhaustion I had made me “cowardly”, and extremely vulnerable. Until I rested again I was able to recover and understand my sad episode due to lack of rest.
Tip: if you rest properly, move on to the next exercise, otherwise set yourself a goal this week to go to bed at least a half hour early and get up at the usual time or take a nap or set aside time for an activity that is relaxing and provides mental rest , emotional and / or corporal.
# 4 Find your ideal 80/20
Yes, it is the well-known rule of Vilfredo Pareto that says that 20% of the population of a place owns 80% of the wealth. In our life, there are many 80/20 relationships present.
In this exercise. it is about concentrating your effort in 20% of activities that generate 80% of the results. If you are a perfectionist it is very likely that you invest excessive time fixing details that most of the people tend to ignore. This is not an effective use of your time and takes you away from 80/20.
Tip: detect which are those activities to which you spend a lot of time and produce few results and vice versa, those to which with little time you dedicate you give huge dividends (and I do not mean only money). Here the important thing is to reduce personal wear, obtain results and enjoy. That is, in this relationship, in addition to identifying the activities that generate results, discover which ones you enjoy the most. If you see that you enjoy a lot that gives you little financial return, evaluate if there is any way to earn income from what you like so much.
# 5 Reconnect with pleasurable and meaningful experiences
There are moments in your life in which you have felt very happy, in ecstasy (these moments could be answers to the question what makes you happy in life). The sources of these situations have been diverse. We have a treasure, a great gift, our imagination. Studies have shown that just by remembering those pleasurable experiences there are chemical reactions that are stimulating and positive.
Tip: make your list top 5 or top 10 (the amount you want) of very pleasant experiences. Those life situations in which you were very happy. Once identified, review the list, look for a quiet moment and visualize at least one of those experiences, recreating it in your mind for about 15 minutes; Imagine that you are in that situation again. Do it daily for a week. You will see the positive effect that has immediately, evoke these memories.
# 6 Become a virtue seeker
There are people who, although facing enormous difficulties, grow up and find something positive, the lesson, the learning, what they earned, etc. There are others who, Henry David Thoreau called defect seekers, some say those who seek the “fifth leg to the cat” because even in paradise find or fix on something negative. These last people have a master in finding reasons to be unhappy. We must learn and train our mind and spirit to get the best out of any experience that comes our way, even those that seem to come out of horror or drama novels.
Tip: look for virtues, lessons, learnings, the positive in any situation that you live this week; also look for strengths or qualities in the people around you, even those with whom you find difficult to get along. This will help you strengthen your ability to look for virtues, gold where others only see coal.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill
And you thought I’d leave gratitude out, well, no. Thanks daily for everything you have and what results from these exercises. As you make it, you create habits to be happy most of the time.
You have many ways to become happier and give the answer to the question what makes you happy in life. Do what makes you happy.
Remember happiness is a choice.
Do you want to read this post in Spanish, here is.