How do you define happiness? Is there a such thing as true happiness? Is happiness a choice?
Psychologist Martin Seligman provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology’s correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they experience:
• Pleasure (fun activity, warm baths, etc.)
• Engagement (with others or in a challenging activity)
• Relationships (social ties are an extremely reliable indicator of happiness)
• Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger)
• Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals)
How do you attain these?
1. You choose.
How you view yourself and your world are conscious choices and habits. The lens you choose to view everything through determines how you will interpret what is happening. And from your interpretation you act. And all of this becomes your life. You can choose to find happiness in small, everyday things. You can choose to interpret what happens in a positive way. Or in a negative way. And your choices controls much of how much happiness your will find and create in your life.
Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Abraham Lincoln
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
The world of those who are happy is different from the world of those who are not.Ludwig Wittgenstein
2. Focus on the present, not yesterday or tomorrow.
You only have now. Yesterday is a memory and you cannot change it. Tomorrow is just a fantasy in your mind right now. So live more in the now, focus on the present moment and today. Think and worry less about yesterday and tomorrow. Otherwise you might miss a great deal of happiness that is available to you right now.
When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.
3. Don’t forget to be grateful.
One of the simplest and quickest ways to turn a negative and sour mood into a more positive one is to be grateful. That is the heart of the positive journal. Just try if for a minute and see how it changes how you feel. You feel great because you are grateful about your world and the people you are grateful for feel great too because they feel appreciated. So don’t forget about gratitude or you may forget about the happiness that is already in your life.
Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.
We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
4. Help someone else find happiness.
This is certainly one of the most popular ideas found about happiness. When you make someone else happy – by, for example, helping them with something – you can sense, see, feel, and hear it. And that happy feeling flows back to you. And then, if you’d like, you can boost you own ego by thinking something like: ”Wow, I really made him/her happy!”.
And since the Law of Reciprocity is strong there is another upside. People will feel like giving back to you. Or they might feel like helping/sharing it with someone else. And so the two – or more – of you keep spreading the happiness.
Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Happiness is like a kiss. You must share it to enjoy it.
5. Get rid of a couple of your less valuable desires.
If you want less instead of more, then your desires are more likely to be fulfilled. And if you throw away a few of those desires that you may not really want or need that much anyway you’ll probably start to feel less stressed and worried. This is a calmer and better place to be to enjoy your day and to take the time discover the happiness that is already in your life.
If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires.
You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.
That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.
Henry David Thoreau
6. Do what you like to do.
A pretty obvious one. But it’s still easy to trap yourself into doing what you don’t want to for many, many hours. And seldom do what you really love to do. And I guess this one ties into tip #1. You may not be able to choose to do what you want to do right now. Or for many hours each day or week. But you almost always have a choice to do more of what you really want to do. There is always time. Or time you can free up. You have a choice.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
7. Or at least do something.
One of the best ways to not find happiness is just to hold yourself back and do nothing. Seldom show up. Paralyze yourself through over analysis. It’s not always easy to take action, it can be scary and hard and difficult. But if you don’t take action you’ll be missing out on a lot. Including many moments, people and experiences that can bring you a lot of happiness.
Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.