There are a range of definitions and theories shared on the concept of happiness and even more sensical practices on how one can become happy. Anthropologist and social lecturer Neil Thin argues that happiness requires empathy and “engagement with others in the world” and is an ongoing social process. (2012) However, some may wonder, if this theory were true, what happens to our happiness when we are physically alone?
Some research reveals that the best predictors of happiness are: temperamental traits (i.e., extroversion, neuroticism), social relationships, and purpose in life. Genetic make-up has even been said to pay contributions to one’s level of happiness. Some may believe that they will be happy when they’ve achieved particular goals.
It seems that somewhere along the way humans were programmed to believe that happiness was associated with a sense of completion rather than a constant conscious practice. Many people believe that once they have acquired the things that hold external values only then is it okay for them to be happy. Things like getting married, having a secure job, financial success, great friends, etc.., are all great accomplishments, and only tend bring a temporary boost of happiness as well as stress.
Contrary to popular belief, happiness is not a destination. Happiness is not a place we aspire to nor do we stay in that place permanently. Happiness takes work from the inside and each individual has a baseline level of happiness. Believe it or not, happiness is a state of being and one’s state of happiness can shift almost instantaneously. One can have moments of happiness, and one can have a sense of overall happiness.
Being happy does not mean that we have to be void of any suffering, whether that suffering is mental, physical or environmental. Furthermore, it is not meant to be your partner’s job to make you happy, nor can you always rely on friends and family to do or say the right things to help you sustain that happy place.
Being happy is a choice we make regardless of our circumstances. As we navigate through the ebbs and flows of life, we can make a conscious decision to embrace all that comes with the journey. The following are a few habits to help to build happiness on a deeper level.
How to Be in Happiness:
Write down at least 1-3 things you are grateful about daily. Regardless of how big or small it is, get it on paper. You can even collect your grateful moments by putting your writings in a jar and pulling them out when you want a comprehensive view of all you have to be grateful for.
Acts of Kindness
Do something kind for no particular reason. You may uplift yourself as well as the ones on the receiving end of your deed.
Create Social Connections
Whether it’s by phone call, text, or face to face, making connections with others can have a powerful impact on your mood.
Physical activity can have a powerful impact on the brain by enhancing mood and cognitive function.
Honor Your Emotions
It is natural and healthy to allow yourself to feel each emotion that accompanies each experience whether positive or negative. Feeling guilty about your situation or feeling you don’t deserve a happy place will stand in the way of your peace of mind and overall happiness.
Rewire Your Brain
Research has been shared on experiences that can help rewire the brain, reduce anxiety, and lead us to a happier and more fulfilling life. The following are some examples of activities you can engage in to help rewire your brain to find more happiness:
- Learning a new language
- Healthy eating
“Happiness is an inside job.” ~William Arthur Ward
Reference: Thin, Neil (2012). Social Happiness: Theory into Policy and Practice. The Policy Press.
By, Ashley Vazquez MFT, EAP Counselor