How do you know if someone is really happy?
When you ask someone what they really want, most will say they just want to be happy.
But how do you know if someone is happy? What what does that look like?
I have read lots of books on the subject od happiness. For many, most, it is elusive. Some of the latest things I am reading are now saying that pursuing happiness is a waste of time, that it leads to constant disappointment and worry about not being happy enough. I think that is partly right, but I think that also it speaks to this quest for "bliss" whereby true happiness my be something closer to contentment.
When I think about different people I have known or observed in my life that I thought seemed happy, certain traits seem to be recurring themes.
Here are some common qualities that I have noticed in “Happy” people:
If you want to be happy, you choose to be happy no matter what. Period.
This is your ultimate power and freedom, no one can do for you, no one can take it away.
You’ve got a lot of reasons to be happy – really!
Being happy goes beyond just pleasant emotions. Learning to remain joyful throughout the day can have dramatic positive effects on physiology and even improves the overall mental function. It also profoundly reduces stress.
Happy people don't sit around waiting for good vibes to happen to them. Whatever makes them happy, they go for it, said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside and author of "The Myth of Happiness."
Lyubomirsky estimates that half of people's happiness is determined by their genes, about 10% can be attributed to differences in life circumstances or situations, and about 40% of our happiness is up to us -- although it varies by person.
That's a lot of happiness under our control.
Check out these 10 ways to get happy. Why not pick one and try?
1. Practice kindness. Do something nice for someone else, whether it's someone you know or a stranger. It can be spur of the moment or planned out. You can do the good deed anonymously or help the beneficiary directly.
2. Keep a journal. People who kept a weekly journal actually did more exercise, had fewer physical problems and felt more optimistic about the coming week and life in general, according to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis.
3. Get into a community - spiritual or otherwise. There's plenty of research showing that people who participate in their local church, synagogue, or any community are happier. When people participate in community, they get people thinking beyond themselves.
4. Buy experiences, not stuff. A vacation with loved ones or buying tickets to a show or concert will make you happier than buying another gadget. "Instead of buying the jersey of your favorite baseball player, for example, buy a pair of tickets to a game, which will allow you to spend time with a friend or a loved one."
5. Buy stuff that creates experiences. So you still want to buy something? How about gear that allows you to have experiences in your areas of interest, such as games or music? "Experiential products such as sporting equipment, hobby items, artist supplies or musical instruments are a special class of material items that bring joy from "doing". There is something called "flow" which comes from being totally immersed to that one loses all track of time. To be in flow is to be happy (see #9).
6. Stop hanging out on social media so much. People who spend more time on Facebook and other social media report lower self-esteem, less connection to others and fewer positive emotions says Timothy Bono, assistant dean and lecturer in psychology at Washington University. "Social media also evokes upward social comparison, often leaving us feeling worse about ourselves," he said.
7. Stop checking your email. People who check their email all the time are more stressed than people who check their email just three times daily, according to a recent study. I know it's hard to do. "People find it difficult to resist the temptation of checking email, and yet resisting this temptation reduces their stress," said Kostadin Kushlev, the study's lead author.
8. Focus on time, not money. Although people typically focus on money, marketing professor Cassie Mogilner has found that that focusing on time often helps people realize that time is a precious resource. That knowledge helps them be more deliberate in how they spend it. This leads people to spend their time in ways that are more fulfilling and that make them happier, like connecting with the people in their lives.
9. Lose yourself in your activities. Do you remember the time you "lost" yourself because you were having so much fun playing tennis, gardening, sailing, learning a new musical instrument, woodworking or baking the perfect pie? Increase the number of opportunities to "lose" yourself in a new or old activity that occupies your brain and body. This is called Flow - go find it.
10. Realize that joy is your original nature. It does not matter what you are pursuing in your life, whether it is business, power, education or service, you are doing so because somewhere deep inside you is a feeling that this will bring you happiness. Every single action that we perform on this planet springs from an aspiration to be happy because it is the original nature. When you were a child you were simply happy. That is your nature. The source of joy is within you; you can take charge of it.
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I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.