looking back: Happiness

Awhile back I wrote a paper for a class about happiness.  I went back to read it as I was going through some old folders online.  I came across it.  So gonna take a look back.

What does it mean to “be happy.”   Simple living— is just the beginning of happiness research and positive psychology science.

  1. The relationship of happiness to income levels is important only at the extremes of poverty and wealth. For the rest of us, the amount of money we earn does not make us any more or less happy.
  2. Happiness can be a shallow concept, but for philosophers and psychologists it approaches contentment, life satisfaction or relief from pain, loneliness or boredom. Sadly, “happiness” is a profound word that has been too-readily associated with empty-headedness.
  3. Meaningful life experiences offer more lasting happiness than the accumulation of possessions.
  4. Happy people want to share happiness; they live with (and express) an attitude of gratitude.
  5. Happiness is associated with emotional styles—temperaments or personality preferences—that include resilience, social intuition, focused attention, positive outlook and self-awareness.
  6. Happiness consists of hard-wired habits more than conscious decision-making.
  7. Happy people savor life experiences.
  8. People with a positive psychological outlook also exhibit wisdom, courage, love, justice and transcendence.

So how happy are you?  How happy am I?  That is a loaded question I believe.  Depends on the day and the situation, right?

So I sat down and made a list of the things that make me happy…. I have a number of things that make me happy.  Many of the things on my list were actually actions or things I can do to help lift my spirits when I feel not quite so good.  So I have been trying to incorporate one or two of these things a day into my daily life and my daughter’s life as well.  I had K make a short list as well.  She came of a few great things too.  I realize that K has a huge heart and love to help people as well.

I realize that you have to make these things on your list a habit…

——Pick 3 things–K and I started a daily evening routine, at about 8pm each day, where we take a moment to tell each other three good things about our day. We didn’t invent this, but it gives us as at least one time in our day when we focus on what we are grateful for. This can create a mental habit of gratitude that you can use other times in your day, when you’re focused on the things you don’t like or have — when you feel this, think about something you do have, that you love. Find a way to be grateful, and you’re happier.

—— Help someone else – When we focus on ourselves, and the woeful state of our lives, we are self-centered. This shrinks the world to one little place with one little unhappy person. But what if we can see the whole picture, and expand our heart to include at least one other person? Maybe even a few others? Then we see that others are suffering too, even if that just means they’re stressed out. Then we can reach out, and do something to reduce their stress, put a smile on their face, make their lives easier. Help at least one person each day, and you’ll find your entire perspective shifted.

——Quiet time or meditate — Meditate for just 2 minutes a day, and you’ll create a habit that will allow you to notice your thoughts throughout the rest of the day, that will help you to be more present (unhappiness comes from not being present), that will help you notice the source of anxiety and distraction. My therapist, Adam, has taught me that you can accomplish a lot in that 2 minutes. Sit every morning when you wake, and just notice your body, and then your breath. Notice when your mind wanders, and gently return to your breath. You become the watcher of your mind, and you’ll learn some useful things, I promise. I also use a little time after these 2-3 minutes to pray and myself centered with God.  I pray and breathe.

—–Exercise—–Everyone knows you should exercise, so I’m not going to go on an on about this point. But it really does make you happier, both in the moment of exercise (I’m exerting myself, I’m alive!) and throughout the rest of the day.  For me…getting there is the biggest battle.  But once I am there…I do feel so much better.  Exercise lightly, if you’re not in the habit yet, and just for a few minutes a day to start out. Who doesn’t have a few minutes a day? If you don’t, you need to loosen up your schedule a bit.

I have worked these into my life this summer…..all of them…but the exercise one has come to an abrupt halt when I had foot surgery.  But I believe that I will get back to exercise when the doctor will let me.  I get stitches out this Friday.  I will see when I get the go ahead to get back in the water for water aerobics.  🙂

Be happy!!

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