- The pursuit of happiness is a natural human phenomena and research has revealed effective ways of achieving happiness.
- Relationships, using our strengths, creating meaning in our lives, and caring for our physical wellness through exercise are four examples of proven happiness boosters.
In our last post, we broke down the myths of happiness and how we can counteract the hedonic adaptation which can compromise our happiness. Fortunately, research has not only broken down our old paradigm of what makes a happy life; it has also given us insight into what we can do to actually be happier, regardless of our circumstances. Today, we’ll explore four important ways to invest in your happiness.
Take care of your relationships – Relationships are perhaps the most important way for humans to find true and lasting happiness. Family, friends, community connections – these all contribute to human flourishing. Take time regularly to nurture the important relationships in your life and you’re likely to be a happier person (not to mention increase the happiness of those around you, too). Research suggests that actually talking to people – rather than texting and emailing – boosts this relational benefit even further.
Using your strengths – Determining your personal strengths and using them consciously can increase of happiness. In the work world, this is an easy way to create a win-win for ourselves and our business, by discovering how you can being your unique abilities to your work context. Assessment such as the StrengthsFinder or the Via Character Strengths assessment can help you pinpoint some of your strengths, or just honestly assess what you know you are good at – whether it’s as specific as designing analytics strategies, or as general as a quality like empathy or humility – and use them as frequently as you can.
Creating meaning – Orienting ourselves within a bigger picture of values gives our lives meaning and sheds long-term happiness even on struggles and challenges. Regardless of what we are doing, meaning emerges when we have a sense that we are working for something bigger than ourselves – whether a cause, an ideal, or a spiritual truth we believe in. For example, if we value artistic expression, the sometimes long and frustrating process of creating will still bring happiness, since it’s part of living out our values and links to a broader meaning. And working for more money might not create much meaning, but working to provide for your family, experience the joy of achievement, or enjoy the feeling of tackling new challenges can.
Exercise and physical well-being – It’s simple – exercise is one of the most effective ways of increasing happiness. From improving our overall health, to lowering stress, to boosting mood and energy levels, exercise pays huge dividends in the quest for a happy life. And it doesn’t have to be anything complicated, expensive or time consuming – it has been reported that even a 12 minute walk can enhance our mood (not to mention provide us with many physical benefits as well). Of course, walking is only one option among many. Perhaps you prefer yoga, running, team sports, dance or hitting the gym. Whatever your preference, know that your body is not the only beneficiary of your fitness regime – your mental state is, too.
In the end, it seems that happiness is less of an end-state and more of a journey – a constant process of investing in the things that matter and mindfully limiting our emphasis on things that don’t. Gratitude, savouring, love, growth, physical well-being – these are the building blocks of a happy life.