Most people would express being sort of happy, or at least content.
Though, even when people are content, they probably want to find greater happiness.
The problem is, most people don’t know what to do to start leading a happier life.
You may have heard numerous perspectives on finding happiness, such as “you just have to choose to be happy,” or “happiness comes from within.”
There is some truth to these notions, but there is more to the process than just a change in attitude.
Research has shown that people have a happiness set-point which influences their happiness at about a 50% ratio. We have a baseline level where our happiness fluctuates around.
Even with this in mind, there are another 50% of factors that we can focus on to increase happiness. This includes (40%) intentional activities and (10%) life circumstances.
Seeking to be happier and have a more fulfilling life is a matter of doing more of what you love to do, having nourishing relationships, as well as finding meaning and purpose in life.
In other words, by following the four “P’s.”
Have you had a similar experience?
This apathy and lack of productivity comes from having little fulfillment, feeling no control, and feeling unimportant, which can often be related to the environment one works in.
There is nothing worse for productivity, personal fulfillment, and job satisfaction than working in an environment of negativity, cynicism, and apathy.
The field of positive psychology recognizes this, and has been examining how working in a positive organizational culture can potentially enhance productivity and human capital.
Studies on Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) have yielded results that fostering traits such as confidence, optimism, hope, and resilience offer very impressive behavioral outcomes.
Four specific traits which have been examined are:
Self-efficacy – People’s confidence in their ability to achieve a specific goal in a specific situation.
Hope - A successful feeling and interaction of agency (or goal-directed motivation) and pathways (or planning to achieve those goals).
Optimism - A tendency to take a favorable view, specifically having fixed and global attributions for positive events and not fixed and specific attributions to negative events.
Resiliency - In organizational aspects, it is defined as an ability to recuperate from stress, conflict, failure, change or increase in responsibility.
It took me awhile to recognize that I had a fixed mindset about fostering creativity, and that anyone can become more creative.
Once I developed the internal motivation to be creative, and started to spend more time with creative people, I noticed and engaged in opportunities to cultivate this ability. I also started to notice natural talents that were before dormant.
I was thirsty for challenges and looked forward to opportunities where I could create and express myself. Little by little I found that I could be just as creative as other people, if I was willing to let myself freely invent and explore ideas.
Here are a few suggestions on how this can be done.
It seems that certain people are just made to handle adversity. No matter what comes their way they find a solution and don’t seem overly concerned.
Though, resilience doesn’t come out of nowhere. These people learned somewhere along the way how to deal with problems and find value within life’s difficulties.
Why is resilience important?
Resilience offers protective factors against mental and physical illness, providing a buffer against stress, strain, and anxiety. When it comes to children, helping them understand risk factors in their life and how to face these competently is cruical to raising a confident and self-discplined children.
Humans are social creatures. We have a need to belong and connect with others.
Our most intimate relationships offer us support, meaning, and love, helping us to thrive and grow as people.
Since we influence others as much they influence us, the choices we make in our relationships will highly influence how they unfold.
Below you will find ideas to help foster more compassion, love, and support in your relationships.
Accentuate the positive
When a spouse or partner does something right, let them know. Make it a point to praise and emphasize positive behavior. Don’t focus attention on the negative behavior you want to eliminate, but instead accentuate the positive behavior you want to increase. A great resource for this is Whale Done by Ken Blanchard.
Relationship success depends on a balance of offering compliments and praise along with negative criticism. Remember to compliment and express what you love about your partner.
The amount of conflict and criticism present in a relationship is a large predictor of the level of satisfaction and stability in the relationship.
Focus on the positive and start building trust and security.
We all have times when emotions get the best of us. We may have an angry outburst or be overcome with anxiety.
Though, by gaining self-awareness about how we feel and learning to regulate emotions, we can start to experience more positive emotions and elevate our mood.
Just as anger, sadness, and fear have a trigger, so to do positive emotions such as joy, passion, and love.
You can start to prompt positive emotions by learning how to recognize and manage emotional cues, what you think about, and the habits you have.
Here are a few skills to help you learn how to regulate emotions.
The concept of hope and setting goals go hand-in-hand.
Our level of hope impacts the type of goals we set and how many goals we are working toward.
Likewise, the accomplishment of goals tends to increase hopeful feelings.
Think of a time when things were going well and you had achieved some important goals.
How did you feel about your future? The sky was probably the limit.
On the other hand, if you have ever felt hopeless, I’m sure your view of the future looked a little bleak, and you probably weren’t looking to achieve important goals.
When we achieve goals it offers a feeling of hope for the future. We feel in control and ready to tackle our next task. It offers us energy and confidence to do what needs to be done.
So what is hope anyway?
For many years psychology has focused on illness, taking a perspective of alleviating sickness as opposed to helping people reach their true potential and optimal level of functioning.
As Sigmund Freud has been quoted saying:
“I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash.”
I don’t know your perspective or attitude toward people and society, but this is clearly about as pessimistic and cynical as it gets.
Thinking of psychology through a mental illness lens limits the scope of how the world can become a better place, and how we as individuals can reach our full potential.
Fortunately, scholars recognized that psychology had become far too negative, and that it was time to focus more on the positive traits, experiences, and values that could lead to greater happiness, success, and achievement in the individual person and world at large.
From this realization, the positive psychology movement was born, and research started to examine the full range of human behavior.
Welcome to Adventures in Positive Psychology with Joe Wilner, MA, a blog about positive psychology. You’ve probably heard a thing or two about positive psychology in the past decade, because of its focus on helping people to better understand themselves and their lives to increase happiness. Sure, life can be challenging sometimes and many face a mental health concern. But that’s no reason you shouldn’t be seeking personal growth all of your life too, and find ways to increase your happiness and well-being.
Joe Wilner has a Masters Degree in Psychology and a Masters in Liberal Arts, with a concentration in Management and Leadership. Joe is a certified meditation instructor through the American Institute of Health Care Professionals (AIHC) as well as a certified coach practitioner through the Certified Coaches Federation (CCF). He is the Founder of Aspire to Grow, an organization providing coaching and training to assist students in career planning and the development of social and emotional intelligence. You can learn more about Joe here.
Please give Joe a big Psych Central welcome! I look forward to reading more about his take on positive psychology and how we can learn to become happier and most positive in our own lives!