How often have you said, “I just want to be happy”?
How often have you said to someone else, “I just want you to be happy”?
Have you ever really thought about what happiness means? What, exactly, is this happiness we are wishing for?
I feel happy when I am at the beach with the sun and the wind in my face; I feel happy when I am playing a game with my children (when we are all in a good mood, haha); I feel happy when I sit by the fire in my partners arms, I feel happy on a hike in the mountains enjoying some amazing views…. But is that true happiness? Or does it go deeper? What exactly is happiness and where does it come from?
What is happiness?
Do we actually need to define happiness? We know it when we feel it, don´t we?
Yet thinking about it a bit more I do think identifying what happiness means matters, because it’s hard for your wishes for happiness to come true if you aren’t clear about exactly what happiness is.
So I looked it up on the internet. ¨What is happiness?”
Modern psychology describes happiness as subjective well-being. But what does that mean???
¨Subjective well-being is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, excitement, satisfaction, contentment, gratitude, pride, optimism and fulfilment.¨
Subjective well-being or happiness is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction:
- The balance of emotions: Everyone experiences both positive and negative emotions, feelings, and moods. Happiness is generally linked to experiencing more positive feelings than negative.
- Life satisfaction: This relates to how satisfied you feel with different areas of your life including your relationships, work, achievements, and other things that you consider important.
According to the experts happiness includes both momentary positive emotions and a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life. Sometimes these parts are split up in to hedonia (pleasure) and eudaimonia (more like thriving or flourishing), but most of the time when referring to “happiness”, people are talking about the combination of both.
What is Real Happiness?
I think this means ‘true’ happiness is not just getting that dream job, or having a child or earning a lot of money. And it definitely goes a lot deeper than sunny days at the beach. Of course happiness has to do with ´external´ factors, but true happiness is something quite different.
Real happiness needs to come from within. You cannot have pleasurable moments all the time, that´s not realistic. Besides, if you wouldn’t have the bad moments you would not appreciate the good ones. After all you can´t have the rainbow without the rain 😉. I think that to be happy you need to accept reality for what it is. Deal with the bad stuff as well as you can, think ¨this too shall pass, things will get better, I will be able to feel happy again.¨ And appreciate the good things in your life, be grateful, enjoy the moment, laugh. Also try to accept the fact that change is inevitable, you cannot hold on to things for ever, and adjust to that.
How to be happy
I think we can conclude that happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next. So if happiness comes from within what can you do yourself to increase it?
Happiness isn’t a goal that you can simply reach and be done with. It is a work in progress that you have to keep nurturing and maintain. Some people just seem to be naturally happier than others, so what can you do to also become a happy person?
Research shows that much of happiness is under personal control. Regularly enjoying small pleasures, doing challenging activities, setting and reaching goals, maintaining close social relationships, and finding a purpose in life all contribute to ´feeling good´.
How to Create Happy Moments in Life
So this means that you yourself, to a certain extent, have some control over how happy you feel and there are quite a few things you can do to increase your happiness. For example:
- Find joy in the little things (a cup of coffee, fresh flowers, the smell of rain etc.)
- Start each day with a smile, laugh as much as you can!
- Connect with others
- Do what you’re most passionate about
- Count your blessings and be grateful
- Choose to be positive and see the best in every situation
- Create goals and plans to achieve what you want most
- Enjoy the moment and be present (don´t think about what you should have done differently yesterday or what you have to do tomorrow)
- Be good and kind to yourself
- Reframe negative thoughts and despair
- Let go of sadness and disappointment
- Relax, don´t stress so much
- Ask for help when you need it
Signs of a Happy Person
To become a happy person, look at what happy people look like and do as they do. A happy person:
- smiles and laughs readily
- is open to new experiences
- goes with the flow
- is modest and patient
- is often grateful
- isn´ t spiteful or insulting
- does not hold grudges
- is happy for other people
- does not register small annoyances
- is compassionate and helpful
- gives without expecting something back
- does not feel entitled
- does not complain
- is not a victim
Why health and happiness are intertwined
Health and happiness are completely intertwined. That’s not to say that people with illnesses can’t be happy, but that attending to one’s health is a very important component of well-being.
Researchers have identified many links between health and happiness but it’s difficult to distinguish which factor causes the other. Making changes to diet, exercise and sleep can help everyone feel more content.
On the other hand feeling happy can contribute to better health. Research suggests that feelings of positivity and fulfilment seem to benefit cardiovascular health, the immune system, inflammation levels, and blood pressure, among other things. Happiness has even been linked to a longer lifespan as well as a higher quality of life and well-being.
Final thoughts on happiness
Happiness is what we all seek in life and if you are willing to actively pursue greater happiness, I believe you can steer your life in the best direction.
Incorporate above mentioned ¨¨ Happy Moments in Life¨ tips in your life and try to act and feel like a ¨ Happy Person¨. It might help to print out both lists. Post it on your computer screen or your refrigerator. Put it somewhere you will notice it, and read it regularly.
Happiness is a practice. The more you encourage yourself to feel happy, the more often you’ll find you achieve it.
While there are things in life over which you have no control, there are others you can influence. Sometimes you have to accept things for what they are, be realistic, adjust and deal with it to the best of your abilities. And while you may not have power over what others do, you can control your responses and perceptions. You have a choice in the way you act, react, respond to, and perceive the world around you. In other words, you can control some of your happiness. So don´t worry, be happy 😉!
Written bij your SISter in Wellness Femke
If you find this difficult to find happiness on your own, we can suggest some well-being programs that offer the opportunity to discover a happier lifestyle that is positively directed towards your health & happiness: https://www.spa-in-spain.com/holiday-types/theme/mindfulness-personal-growth/