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Chasing Happiness

March 14, 2017

     Just about everything we do in life is intended to achieve or maintain “happiness” at some level. What exactly is happiness? It’s an elusive state where we feel contentment, satisfaction and perhaps even bliss. That definition may be too simplified but it lands on the target near the bullseye.

     On the other hand, unhappiness seems pretty easy to identify. Stop for a moment and consider what you think about when you’re driving home from work or the field. Chances are you’re not thinking, “Wow, I’ve had a great day and I really enjoyed all the tasks I got to do!”

     Psychologists from the University of California studied happiness and found that life circumstances and genetics account for about 50 percent of a person’s happiness. What about the other 50 percent? You guessed it. We determine that for ourselves.

 

 

 

7 Ways to Get Your Happy On:

1. Hang out with happy people - Studies show that one person’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only their friends, but their friends’ friends. Surround yourself with people who are inherently happy. And then spread the joy even further!

 

2. Monitor technology use - Okay so every now and then I might watch an entire season of a new show on Netflix. You might find yourself lost in a book on your Kindle. But the question is, and answer this honestly, “How much time do you spend plugged in?” Add up the video games, television, apps on your tablet or phone, working on your computer, etc. I enjoy catching up with friends on social media or browsing ideas on a craft project. Before you know it, your happiness has turned to numb scrolling. Be cognizant of when it goes from making you feel good to being a distraction.

 

 

3. Like the stuff you have - Hundreds of studies prove that material things don’t make you truly happy. If you have a habit of chasing things, you are likely to experience a level of unhappiness at some point because your list continues on. Take a few moments to jot down five things you already have that encourage your happiness. My coffee maker is something that I enjoy not only because I like coffee, but I enjoy the conversation with family members over a cup of hot java. But remember, money can’t buy happiness, you alone have the power to choose to be happy.

 

4. Be happy now - Often when we’re not chasing things we’re waiting for something better to happen to us. Perhaps you’re in search of a better job, more pay, more land, or a new relationship. How you answer the question, “I’ll be happy when….” allows a circumstance to control your happiness. Don’t wait for the future, focus on being happy right now.

 

5. Embrace change - Certainly change is an inevitable part of life. I’ll be the first to admit that I like to remain in control. Learning to be comfortable with change allows us to remove the barrier between ourselves and the circumstance which needs disconnected or improved.

 

6. Foster positive emotions - Thwart negative emotions by conquering pessimism, resentment and anger. Replace them with empathy, serenity and gratitude. Start a journal and jot down a few things each night you’ve been grateful for that day. You’ll be more honest with yourself in a journal than you will be on Facebook.

 

7. Engage in meaningful activities – I recently read Finding Flow, by Mihaly Csikszenihalyi. He contends “flow” is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. No, not the insurance lady. To get more out of life, you must put more into it. It’s possible to improve the quality of your life by making sure that the conditions of flow are a constant part of everyday life.

 

 

     Just like with exercise, being intentional about your level of happiness is more successful once it becomes a habit. Grab a journal and map your habit formation. You’re allowed to have days when happy just isn’t going to happen. But let the happy days outweigh them.

 

 

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