As I began exploring positive psychology and utilizing “happiness” interventions in my own life, I was able to really experience a positive influence on my outlook and level of well-being.
I want to share how I have done this, so I’ve compiled psychological theories and research shown to increase well-being and happiness in an easy to read book.
The program also includes my story and how these ideas have completely altered my level of happiness and well-being.
The program provides tools for developing greater self-awareness, cultivating positive emotion, finding purpose and meaning, cultivating healthy relationships, seeking self-growth, and partnering with others to leave a lasting influence in the world.
Let’s face it. Seeing our life as good enough doesn’t come naturally for many people any longer.
We live in a mixed-up and crazy culture where it’s an ongoing commitment to temper greed, jealousy and ambition for more. We always have the options to have more, learn more and do more.
One key to living with contentment is to realize the difference between needs and wants. We allow our desires and wants to take over our motivation until we begin to believe that we really need to live a life of consumption and materialism.
As we gain awareness of this conditioning we can learn to alter our perspective to one that will offer more satisfaction with life.
Here are a few ideas to help you be happier with what you have and who you are:
Would you say it’s to be successful, to have loving relationships, to make a difference in the world, or to be wealthy?
Maybe it’s all of the above – though there is one common denominator for all of these: to be happy. We all want to be happy, right?
Some would say the search for happiness is the greatest motivator of humankind.
For many people this is the primary goal of their life.
We do what we do in the hopes that we will ultimately find greater happiness.
It’s intuitive to think that if we value happiness so much, we would ultimately be happier. If you want something bad enough, don’t you do whatever it takes to reach this goal?
Zest makes life better. Zestful people simply enjoy things more than people low in zestfulness, so when we talk about increasing our habitual level of happiness (what some call the “happiness set point”) then increasing our ability to feel zestful helps.
It is true that zestfulness is almost certainly an innate, inherited trait. But in the past few years, we have discovered that many of these traits are quite changeable. We can increase zest if we wish to.
How do we do it? What about enjoying the things around us? The skill of Savoring can increase our zest, since by paying attention to the pleasant things in our lives, we develop a greater sense of excitement about having that happen again. We enjoy and we eagerly anticipate.
Think of wine tasters. You have seen them sniffing the wine as they swirl it around in the glass, then swishing it around in their mouth. They are trying to sense every aspect of the wine. Their attention is totally focused on the moment, on how they can tune in to every molecule of taste. They are savoring the wine.
We live in a day and age where people are consumed with daily pressure and overloaded with stress from work, family, finances and other obligations.
What do you do to cope during these moments of stress and frustration?
Whether you’re personally struggling to manage your emotions or you know someone in your life who seems to be emotionally sensitive, practicing mindful awareness can be a tool for regulating these difficult emotions.
Mindfulness is generally characterized as having present moment awareness, where we observe our current experience of thoughts and feelings in a nonjudgmental manner.
Mindfulness has been shown to be effective for therapeutic purposes by decreasing emotional distress and helping to reduce depression – though mindfulness can also be a valuable means for dealing with everyday pressures as well.
From Norman Vincent Peale’s classic book The Power of Positive Thinking, to Al Fraken’s satiric self-help character Stuart Smally on Saturday Night Live, reminding us to affirm that, “I’m good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like me.”
Frankly, positive thinking has become such a popularized and commercial notion that many people find it to be cliché and exaggerated.
Can we really be happier by just thinking positively? Can life actually improve by simply changing how we think about things?
I certainly believe that positive thinking can help us feel better. Our thoughts and feelings are intricately related and the way we interpret situations and events, which have been shown to impact the emotions and behavior that follow.
So, what does positive thinking involve?
You wanted a little bit of everything and just couldn’t decide.
You could see the value in each choice or option, and because of this even after making a decision, you had buyer’s remorse and wished you would’ve chosen differently.
Sometimes having numerous options leaves us stuck in our desire to make sure we choose the best and perfect choice.
Unfortunately, perfection is rarely an option, and if we are set on having the best it can truly leave a bitter taste in our mouth as we review the decision.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you always have to have the best, be the best, and convey the best?
Wanting the best isn’t necessarily always negative, as it allows us to strive to be the best we can be and to reach our potential when it comes to wealth, health, and success, but it can also distract us from the joy and blessings all around us.
Are some people simply destined to be unhappy?
We all have a happiness set point. A baseline level of well-being that we return to after our emotional highs and lows subside. There is a level of heritability that is reflected in our personality, temperament, and overall affect.
Fortunately for the sake of happiness, biology is not destiny, and we can take efforts to increase our level of well-being by creating environments and experiences that are conducive to our happiness.
This idea of changing our life-circumstances is related to the bottom-up theory of well-being.
First, why do you want to reach your resolution?
What’s the purpose you want to lose weight, quite smoking, or give up caffeine?
I imagine you believe it will make you happier and more fulfilled. For many people, enhancing our well-being is a major reason we make lifestyle changes.
Secondly, what’s going to help you follow through and achieve your goals?
Positive psychology can offer us some insight and a potential solution to both of these questions.
Pleasure, engagement, and meaning have been show to be unique predictors of well-being.
But what if we are already pretty happy? Does it serve a purpose to work to find ultra-happiness?
Many believe that success leads to happiness. This sends us on a mission to achieve more, be more, and do more in the name of happiness and living life to the fullest.
If I can only have this job, make this much money, and live in this house, then I’ll finally be satisfied with my life.
Research has shown that satisfaction with life is a major indicator of success, or in other words, happier people tend to be more successful in certain life domains. Though on closer observation, very high levels of satisfaction can actually limit the achievement of our full potential in certain domains.
If I’m satisfied with the life I have, what’s the point of striving for more?