Creating Everyday Happiness
It seems it would be hard to find anyone that would not agree that one of life’s greatest feats is to find happiness. Just like The Dalai Lama said, “the purpose of life is happiness.” Yet how exactly can happiness be defined when it is a special experience for each individual? Even the definition of happiness can vary from one source to another.
One could say happiness is finding someone special to love, singing to your dog in the morning, eating ice cream, or sharing a funny moment with someone.
Coca-Cola defines happiness as anything that can bring a smile to someone’s face.
Merriam-Webster defines happiness as a state of well-being and contentment or a pleasurable or satisfying experience.
Deepak Chopra feels the single most important ingredient to happiness is to make someone else feel happy.
Rabbi Ben P. David describes happiness as this deep-rooted feeling that we are blessed.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, describes happiness as something an individual can create. She says, “People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is a result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.”
However happiness is defined, is it something that we are genetically born with? Or is it something that we have the power to choose?
A recent survey by Micoolfish.com indicates that people can indeed create their own happiness, as 51.2 percent of the participants agreed a person could create your own happiness. In the survey, 18.6 percent of the participants felt that the environment one lives in determines happiness. 18.6 percent of the survey takers also reported that one is born a happy person, while 11.6 percent of the participants said that happiness is due to external factors. With more than half of the people supporting the idea that an individual can create his or her own happiness, what can a person do to create their own happiness?
According to University of Penn psychologist Martin E. O. Seligman, there is now a burgeoning “positive psychology” movement that emphasizes people’s strengths and talents instead of their weaknesses. Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, said that happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Real lasting happiness comes from focusing on one’s personal strengths rather than weaknesses- and working with them to improve all aspects of one’s life.
Selena Richardson, coach and editor of Creative Possibilities, believes that true happiness comes from within and you have a choice to be happy or not.
In an article written by Richardson, she said that most people don’t realize that you can choose feeling happy over feeling angry or upset about something. It’s not wrong to feel angry or upset but dwelling on it and letting the anger simmer for too long can have bad results.Choosing to be happy after you realize your anger has shown up (or even choosing to be calm) can be beneficial. You end up acknowledging your anger and moving on instead of harboring those emotions until there’s a flare up. We choose our feelings, no one can do that for us.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Laurie Schlussel agrees that even though it might be said that genetics and the environment can play a part in the amount of
happiness one might feel, people do have the ability to create their own happiness through their own actions.
“Some us are born happy or are born in a happy place, some of us are not,” said Schlussel. For some it may be more challenging than others to be happy. But by and large, I think people can take control of that and improve it. It’s not as easy as waking up one day and saying I’m going to be happy, but there are certain things one can do dedicating themselves to being happier.”
Schlussel said that people have the ability make the experience of happiness for themselves. She gives five ways one can choose happiness.
A Good Support System
In life, everyone has to face struggles, Schlussel believes that with the right support system people can help lower their levels of stress, improve self-esteem, and increase their happiness.
Schlussel said, “A good healthy support system is the most important thing; whether that’s your family or friends that you feel close to, somebody you can and talk to about what’s on your mind. And they will be supportive enough to you, that you feel there is someone on your side.”
A Positive Outlook
According to scientists at the University College of London, people who are happy and have a positive outlook on life live longer. In a five-year study of about 4,000 people, 52 to 79 year-olds revealed that people who had higher levels of contentment had a 35 percent lower risk of early death.
“Having a positive outlook is really important because it changes chemicals in the brain,” said Dr. Schlussel, ”and it causes all kinds of good things to happen when you look at the glass half full, as opposed to half empty.”
According to Schlussel, people who are looking at life with the glass half full, look at life with less negativity and also are looking for the what’s positive in life.
“In every situation, no matter what it is, there is something good,” said Schlussel. “People with a positive outlook on things will have a much easier time finding the positive, and look at things less negative.”
Exercise & Nutrition
Dr. Schlussel states that exercise can also trigger certain chemicals in the brain, which makes you feel good. She said that not only do people get an endorphin high, but exercise can also lead to improved self-esteem, improved confidence, and also decreases stress and depression.
Dr. Schlussel said that along with exercise, nutrition is important for hormones and improving mood.
“”Having good nutrition is really helpful for improving mood,” said Schlussel. “I know that antioxidants tend to improve mood also. You know fruits and vegetables and things like that are important to include as part of your diet. With the right diet, one can also improve their energy and happiness level.”
Find Things You Enjoy
While it can be a life-long pursuit to find what one wants to do with life, according to Schlussel, even in that pursuit it’s important to make time to find time to do things that you love or enjoy.
Dr. Schlussel said, “Whether it’s a sport, or reading a good book, or getting together with friends or people that you like. It’s going to be different for everybody, but it’s important to find something that you look forward to. It is also important to keep active and do things that you enjoy, because it can take you away from any stressors and give you relief, which can make you feel good.”
Doing Acts Of Kindness
In a study in Great Britain participants took a survey measuring life satisfaction. Research has shown that doing kind things for others makes one happy. 86 participants were assigned to one of three groups. One group was instructed to perform a daily act of kindness, one was told to do something new each day, and a third received no instructions. After 10 days the participants were asked to complete a life satisfaction survey. The group that practiced kindness did in fact receive a boost in happiness in comparison to the group that did not do anything.
Schlussel believes that it will not only make you feel good, but will create more positive energy as well.
The first step to choosing happiness however may be that you must have the intention to be happy, as stated in the book, The 9 Choices Of Happy People, by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks.
They state that the intention to be happy is the first thing you have to choose in order to be happy.
“Intention is the active desire and commitment to be happy,” they said. “It’s the decision to consciously choose attitudes that lead to happiness over unhappiness”
Likewise, National Certified Counselor Janine Cook said, “One has to choose happiness to be their mission. They have to take advantage of all opportunities life has to offer, and learn how to be happy. Value happiness, not only choose to do what makes you happy and live with cheer, but also surround yourself with others that are happy. Once you decide to live your life to be happier than you will want to use these strategies to attain happiness.”