Happiness: It’s Easier Than You Think

If you ask most people what they want in their lives and what is most important, they will likely tell you that they “want to be happy.” The desire for happiness is a universal want. It transcends culture, geography, age, and social status. The topic of happiness even finds its way into the academia, an example of its pervasiveness.

The most popular course at Harvard Medical School is a course on happiness. Taught by Harvard psychology professor Tal D. Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., the course is so popular that students wait a year or longer to get in.

A Different Take

Happiness is traditioanlly defined as a state of well-being and contentment, joy, a pleasurable or satisfying experience; yet many people report that happiness is elusive or too often fleeting at best.

Modern happiness gurus like Ben-Shahar offer an altered take on what happiness is or can be. They invite us to walk around the subject and take a different look at the almost mystical feeling called happiness. They suggest not an “I’ll be happy when…” perspective, but allowing ourselves to see how happiness can be enjoyed anytime we choose to have gratitude and joy about the daily, simple blessings in our life.

Happy Right Now

The lesson is that there are things we can be happy about right now and continue to be happy about throughout the day, no matter what else has happened or is going on. These things and experiences are already built into our lives, and it is just a matter of focusing on the simple pleasures and joys these opportunities can provide.

Things That Spark Happiness:

  • The peace and tranquility of rising early in the morning.
  • Listening to birds singing.
  • Watching strangers laugh and smile.
  • Working cooperatively with others.
  • Curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
  • The pleasure of lying down on clean, soft bedding.
  • Time with your best friend.
  • Being kissed.
  • The smell of apple pie baking.
  • A moment of love shared with family.
  • A home-cooked meal.
  • A freshly cleaned bathroom.
  • A long, hot bath or shower.
  • Music that moves you.
  • Sharing stories and memories.
  • Being hugged.
  • Breathing deeply.
  • Completing a task or project.
  • Time in a garden.

Think of all the things in your day that can bring joy or happiness when you allow yourself to be in the moments of your life, and share your hours and days with others and with yourself. Happiness is all around us. It is often just a matter of allowing ourselves to embrace it.

For a free chapter download about changing behavior, visit changingbehavior.org.

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
888-354-4325 Take charge of your health!

How To Overcome Loneliness

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says of loneliness, “The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I have come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle [to happiness].” We have all experienced loneliness in our lives. We know that it is an experience that is not about being alone. We can be by ourselves in solitude and never feel lonely. Or we can be with a crowd of people and feel completely, totally alone in the world.

What Sparks Loneliness

If loneliness is not related to being alone, then what circumstances create this sad and sometimes debilitating feeling? How can we be proactive in avoiding these circumstances and enriching our emotional lives with greater happiness?

In a study conducted by the National Institute of Aging, researcher John T. Cacioppo notes: “The main psychological difference between lonely and non-lonely people is that the former perceive stressful circumstances as threatening rather than challenging and cope passively and withdraw from stress rather than trying to solve the problem.” The study identified the relationship between those who score high for loneliness and those who have the highest blood pressure.

An Epidemic Of Emptiness

While about one in five Americans is reported to be lonely, a study from the British Mental Health Foundation shows Britain is currently in the grip of an “epidemic of loneliness.” This type of loneliness is described as a “patchwork of feeling unhappy, stressed out, friendless and hostile.”

Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says: “Human beings are, of course, social animals, and we’ve evolved to live in extended family groups. If we’re not in a group like that we begin to feel anxious, depressed and begin to find it increasingly difficult to regulate our own behavior.”

The Way Of Elimination

Most studies on loneliness point to a lack of belonging, an absence of being valued, cared about, and appreciated for our contributions to the group. As human beings, we have a need to belong with others and be part a community. Being with others in a meaningful way is identified as a key to eliminating loneliness. Mahatma Gandhi said: “The best way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

By participating in activities that help others, giving of ourselves and serving those in need, we create meaningful relationships that provide us with purpose, fulfillment and greater happiness. Nourishing others has demonstrated the ability to eliminate loneliness and enhance our quality and enjoyment of life.

For a free download on creating excellent communication in relationships, visit www.changingbehavior.org.

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
888-354-4325 Take charge of your health!