Are you experiencing meaningless happiness?
Remember thinking “I will be happy when ____.”
Then it happens, and after some time, or sometimes even immediately, it’s not as fulfilling.
Meaningless happiness is what you feel when what you thought what would make you happy, actually doesn’t.
Maybe we’ve won a Grammy, had a makeover, hit the jackpot, bought a house, got engaged, lost our virginity, finally stopped biting our nails, and lost some weight to then find something else we need. All because we thought, “If only I were rich/famous/fit/the boss/engaged/homeowner, I would be happy.”
What’s your “if only” that you’re thinking about now?
According to the happiness gurus in positive psychology, all that “if only” amount to 10% of our happiness.
The good news, we have control of our happiness, 40% of it to be exact.
Doctor Sonja Lyubomirsky and her collegues at the University of California, Riverside found the most important factors to determine your happiness.
So your life’s circumstances only make up 10%!
Your happiness doesn’t really rely on your current situation (as much as other stuff, which we’ll get to), like if you’re rich, poor, middle class, healthy, unhealthy, beautiful, tall, married, divorced, renting, or a 40-year old virgin (just kidding on that one).
Of course we can’t change our genes, or even some life circumstances, but we can increase or decrease our happiness through our daily actions.
What we do and how we think is in our control that directly impacts our happiness.
Here’s a general list of what happiness prone people do according to massive amounts of research. Check off what you already do, and pick one that you want to do next:
1. Nurture and enjoy close relationships.
You don’t have to be married, but you do need a confidant, a listener, a cheerleader, or someone that cares to hear about what’s going on in your life and wants to see you happy. It doensn’t matter who it is, but intimacy comes in many forms, and this one can’t be replaced.
2. Make appreciation part of your comfort zone.
It can feel awkward to receive a compliment, but also we sometimes dismiss or are oblivious to the little things that are very rewarding. Sometimes we may not have a lot, but to be grateful for what you do have takes a special perspective.
3. Practice altrusim with people you know and strangers.
Maybe you help your coworkers, listen to your friend’s current struggles, or open the door for the person behind you at the coffee shop, because it helps you remember the world doesn’t revolve around you. These people do. That’s why you help them so they know they should help you. Why be altruistic if it isn’t for your ego? Just kidding. Altruism is all about helping others without expecting something in return.
4. Dream in the clouds about the future AND be present in the moment with two feet on the ground.
A happy person usually is working on a project. They’re not known to wait for something to come, they usually just make it happen. They hold a wonderful balance with being fully present and enjoying life’s pleasures, as well as looking forward to their future. Their not pessimistic when it comes to thinking about their future. Their hopeful and optimistic, no matter their current situation. Probably because they know they’ll take it into their own hands to make it so.
5. The habit of exercise gets the jiggles out.
When we exercise regularly we reduce stress and anxiety. Apparently, (aerobic) exercise is just as effective as treating depression as Zoloft, or a combo of the two. It’s also known to be the instant happiness booster. Instead of going with the double shot expresso, dance in your living room like no one is watching—because no one is.
6. Serve a greater cause bigger than yourself.
They give themselves a mission, secretly hoping to James Bond, to fight bad guys and make this world a better place. This can either be by fighting fraud, raising resilient children, fighting for a cause, being on the board of an important charity, etc. They aren’t only interested in making themselves happy, but humanity as a whole.
7. Dust yourself off and try again.
Setbacks are simply your First Attempt In Learning (FAIL). The happiest people don’t experience less stress, tragedies, disapointments, or loss than unhappy people, they just have found productive ways to cope to get back up. They have a healthy relationship with failure. They are resilient, not sheltered.
Why be happy when it can’t put food on the table? Because it can.
A study followed broke college freshmen and found the “happy” ones to be financially well off in their mid 30s. So it’s best to make the observation when you see happy people that are financially stable that they didn’t make money to be happy, instead, their happiness and well-being is a priority over making money.
Happiness is a choice.
For many of us, we’ve experienced some disappointment over the years or don’t seem to understand why is it that the exact thing we asked for didn’t leave the impression we were hoping for.
But here’s the truth.
You have the power to make significant change in your life.
Because one day, you’ll wake up and realize there’s not enough time left to feel fulfilled.
“Happiness consists in activity. It is a running stream, not a stagnant pool.” —John Mason Good
Happiness is not to be obtained passively, waiting for it to fall on your lap, nor should you give it away freely—to anybody that upsets you. It’s your choice to be happy, to keep it and to actively pursue it.
The fountain of happiness is within your reach—even without your “if only.”
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