As I’m sure most of your can relate, staying happy can be tricky. So often we spend money to try to live a happier life, and sometimes it can work. However I want to pursue happiness in a more frugal way. I want to learn to be happier in the present moment. Close friends can help increase your overall happiness levels and get you feeling good. Think about it - how can you achieve these came feelings on your own?
The ultimate question is, “How do we get - and stay - happy?”
In reality, improving our happiness could be futile. In today’s hyper-sensitive and volatile world, we could be setting ourselves up for constant failure.
Didn’t We Almost Have It All
To start, happiness is subjective. What makes you happy, might not make the next person happy.
Author Jennifer Hecht, in her book The Happiness Myth, suggests that we all experience different types of happiness. She also suggests that some types of happiness may even conflict with one another. Essentially having too much of one type of happiness may limit our ability to have enough of the others. As we see happiness increase in one area of life, it often declines in another.
This dilemma is intensified by the way our brains process the experience of happiness.
We’ve all thought far into the future and said, “Won’t it be great when…”. On the other side, we’re also guilty of saying, “Wasn’t it great when…”
But think about how seldom you hear anyone say, “Isn’t this great, right now?”
Surely, our past and future aren’t always better than our present. Yet we continue to think that this is the case.
There’s evidence for why our brains operate this way. Most of us possess something called the optimistic bias. This is the tendency to think that our future will be better than our present.
Psychologists have also identified something called the Pollyanna Principle. It means that we remember pleasant information from the past more than unpleasant. An exception occurs in depressed individuals, who can fixate on past disappointments. The reason memories seem so good is that we focus on the pleasant and forget the unpleasant.
These delusions about the past and the future could be a perfect use-case. If our past is great - why can’t our future can be even better?
All of this tells us something about the fleeting nature of happiness. Emotion researchers have long known about something called the hedonic treadmill. We work very hard to reach a goal, anticipating the happiness it will bring.
Studies of lottery winners and other individuals who seem to have it all are often the ones who don’t make it out alive. Positive events and unfortunate events do not significantly affect an individual’s happiness in the long-term.
Evolutionarily, this makes sense. We would lack motivation if we weren’t inspired by hiccups in our past leading to an idea of a better future for ourselves. Good memories of the past remind us of how happy we’ve been - and how it’s possible to achieve that happiness. Being constantly happy wouldn’t keep us motivated.
Being motivated is what keeps us happy. Being inspired by our past mistakes - or sadness - will keep you on the straight-and-narrow when it comes to focusing on achieving the happiness you once had.
Below are a few ideas to keep in mind when you’re feeling “off course” when it comes to your own happiness.
1. Stay Humble
Kendrick Lamar was onto something when he wrote this in one of his most popular songs. Happy people have blinders on. They don’t let the supposed opinion of others make them feel down. It’s something I’ve struggled with personally. No one thinks about you as much as you think they think about you.
This is where humility comes in. Staying humble helps you focus more on you. Don’t let the idea of others thinking about you take up any real estate in your brain.
2. Be Habitually Happy
When you're happy, you feel like your true self. Truly happy people don't try to get happy. They just are. They stay in the moment. Train your brain to see the good in every situation and make happiness a habit.
3. Act On Your Inspiration
You can’t be passive when it comes to making your dreams come true. You have to show up. All of the Eastern practices and journaling won’t produce an outcome unless you do the work. You need to take action as soon as inspiration comes to them.
4. Get Shit Done
Procrastination subconsciously shows yourself your to-do’s don’t matter. By doing this, you’re unwittingly telling yourself that you’re unworthy of your desires. If you put off projects, find a way to tap into the reason you want pursue it. Happy people do not procrastinate because they inherently have the passion and inspiration to keep going.
5. Take A Break From Your Happiness
As humans, we’ll each have more than 50,000 thoughts per day. If you’re reading this, maybe the thoughts are more negative than positive. I’ve been there and I continue to struggle with that.
Pay attention to your thoughts and dig deep into why you’re having these thoughts. Focus on the energy you’re giving these negative thoughts and really ask yourself, “Why am I thinking this way?” Being in control of your inner thoughts is a giant step towards wrangling your inner dialogue.
By no means are these 5 keys to staying happy, but they’re a start. They’ll at least help take the negative edge off. There are a few things you can do to take the edge off of your stressors.
Likewise, there are a few ways to increase happiness levels, even when life is stressful.
There are several things in life you can change to relieve stress. So how do you shift your outlook?
Healthy relationships are key to one's happiness. Relationships can make our “wins” easier to celebrate and can help eliminate any stress when we face challenges.
Find Your Happiness Fast
It's important to be able to tap into your happiness quickly. The happiness hacks will allow you to get back on track quickly.
Cut Down on Energy Drains
It’s simple - parts of your life can drain your energy. A messy desk, a meeting you don’t want to go to, an event after work. Sometimes we stack up too many, leading to mental overload and ultimately more stress. Get rid of these things or, better yet, make your mental well-being more of a priority.
Get Help If You Need It
Sometimes, you just need to ask for help. Ask if you can skip the meeting, or see if someone else can help with a to-do at work or at home. All you need to do is ask.
Now I’m obviously not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet - so take these tips lightly. They’re not cure-alls, they’re not “get happy quick” schemes. They’re legit tips that I’ve been made aware of and consciously try to practice and keep in mind.