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By Jennifer Thompson

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April 18, 2022

What comes to mind when you think of happiness? A sunny day at the beach, the birth of your firstborn, your wedding day, a son’s graduation, or landing that business deal!

Happiness means different things to different people. I believe that happiness is not something you pursue but rather something that ensues from making life-affirming choices.

Psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania interviewed hundreds of people on what brought them happiness. Based on this study, he came up with three categories of what people did to bring greater joy into their lives.

The Pleasant Life:

People who pursue pleasure as a means to achieving happiness. They make their pleasures last by savoring the moment.

The Engaged Life:

The Engaged Life describes people who found satisafaction by immersing themselves in their passions.

The Meaningful Life:

People in pursuit of happiness through a meaningful life are motivated by a desire to contribute to a cause bigger than themselves.

Energy Flows Where Focus Goes

Many studies have shown us that where you focus your attention has a significant impact on your happiness. Happy people are highly intentional.

Pursuers of the Engaged Life and the Meaningful Life were profoundly passionate and used their strengths to better themselves and their world.

If you want to allow more happiness learn to incorporate the following habits into your life:

  1. Create your happiness.

Do you believe you are the locus of control of what happens in your life? Or do you think life happens to you? Instead of waiting for happiness to fall into your lap, you can nurture your sense of well-being by doing things that make you feel happy. Focus on what you can control.

Happy people are not showered with more blessings than the rest of us. Happy people create their happiness.

Instead o dwelling on the things you can’t control, put effort into the things you can.

2. Surround yourself with the right people.

Never underestimate the influence of your friends and family on your life! Just as misery loves company. Happiness, too, is contagious. Surround yourself with happy people. Hanging around negative people is draining.

3. Get enough sleep.

It’s a fact that sleep improves your mood. Your brain recharges when you sleep by removing toxic proteins accumulated during the day that are byproducts of regular neuronal activity, allowing you to wake up alert and with a clear mind. Poor sleeping habits raise your stress hormone and affect your energy, focus, and memory.

If you want to increase the chances of feeling happier, get more sleep.

4. Be present.

Fully embrace your present reality — the good and the bad. Make peace with your past. Recognize that no amount of guilt can change your history. And accept the uncertainty of the future because no amount of worry can dictate your future.

5. Learn to love yourself.

Give yourself the love and attention you give to others. Learn to accept all of who you are- your strengths and weaknesses. Loving yourself leads you to make healthier choices and improves your mental health.

6. Be grateful.

Studies have shown that regularly practicing gratitude rewires your brain, reduces stress and improves mental and physical health. Practicing gratitude is not about ignoring the challenges you have to face in your life but about recognizing that there is still so much you can be grateful for despite the challenges.

Start each day by listing all the things you can be grateful for. Look for the silver lining,

7. Exercise.

By getting some form of exercise for as little as 10 minutes a day, your body releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that soothes your brain and keeps you in control of your impulses.

Happy people exercise regularly. Exercise improves your mood!

8. Forgive, but don’t forget.

My mother often reminded us of the adage, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Holding on to past hurts only hurts you more.

Happy people forgive, but they never forget. Forgive, but don’t give the wrongdoer another chance to hurt you again.

9. Allow yourself to feel.

Repressing your emotions is unhealthy. Expressing your feelings improves your mood. One study found that people who lived to be at least 100 were significantly more emotionally expressive than the average person.

10. Have a growth mindset.

People’s approaches to life fall under one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset believes you are who you are becauase you were born that way. That a person’s talents, habits, and attitudes are unchangeable.

People with a growth mindset believe that their abilities, attitudes, and ideas can change. And this makes them happier because they are more flexible at handling difficulties. They view challenges as opportunities for growth.

Bringing It All Together

There are many studies about what makes people happy. They often arrive at a similar conclusion: you can adopt habits to increase your well-being. And that happiness is determined by your approach to life and all its challenges. What makes you happy? Please share in the comments section below.

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