YES, YOU CAN BE HAPPY!
At this stage of our lives, many of us are just trying hard to live our best lives but oftentimes, it ain’t easy! Daily stresses can make it an uphill battle to get to a happy place. According to the Happiness Research Institute, a think tank of experts who seek to analyze happiness, well-being, and quality of life, when life lasts longer, happiness should as well.
A study by two University of Pennsylvania economists found that Black Americans have become, on average, much happier than they were 35 years ago and that whites have maintained about the same level of happiness.
Believe it or not, learning how to be happy is something that can be intentionally practiced. Life is too short to be miserable all of the time. Life is full of downturns and trials but when you look back at how you’ve navigated your life, will you be satisfied?
Here are a few suggestions on how to get to happy:
- Smile for no reason. You smile when you’re happy but why not do it for no reason? Researchers have discovered that the link between smiling and happiness could be attributed to the “facial feedback hypothesis,” where facial expressions may have a modest influence on emotions. Smiling also causes the brain to release dopamine (a feel-good hormone), which makes us happier. Try taking baby steps to see how a simple smile can affect you in a positive way.
- Give a compliment. Getting a compliment feels just as good as getting cash, according to one study published in PLOS One. And you benefit too. Complimenting others makes you feel instantly happier too, boosting your mood and increasing your confidence, according to separate research. When you compliment someone, you want that person to feel good about themselves, so it is important to speak with confidence, sincerity, and enthusiasm.
- Declutter your life. Excessive clutter and disorganization are often symptoms of a bigger health problem. At its most extreme, chronic disorganization is called hoarding, a condition many experts believe is a mental illness in its own right. According to happiness guru Gretchen Rubin, free yourself from the weight of meaningless clutter to get to happy but still surround yourself with useful, beloved things, ranging from your grandchild’s artwork to your mother’s cherished jewelry. Get rid of the rest. Keeping your space clean and free of clutter is sure to lift your mood.
- Connect with friends. Feeling included in a community of friends can be an important part of living a happier life. Without the love and fellowship of people you care about, loneliness may become a factor that can detract from your health, happiness, and overall well-being.
- Forgive and let go. Anger toward yourself, toward things that have happened in your life, or anger toward other people, can be a significant burden. When you can let go of anger, you may begin learning how to be happy with yourself.
- Look for the good. There are good things in your life right now: you are alive, you are fed, you are healthy, you have family and friends, and you have opportunities each day to pursue a more meaningful life. Maybe not all of these are true for you right now, but certainly, some of them are—which means there is good in your life that you can focus on. Happiness is about perspective and if you’re looking for reasons to be happy, you’ll probably find them. Happy people focus on positive thoughts.
- Practice generosity. Spending money on others, or giving to charity puts a bigger smile on your face than buying things for yourself, according to Michael Norton, Ph.D., a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Most people think that if you make more money you are going to be happier, but it actually doesn’t have a huge impact on overall happiness. But, how you spend does make a tangible difference. Dr. Norton conducted a study that examined how much people earn, and how they spend. He asked the study’s participants to rate their own happiness. Regardless of income, the people who spent money on others reported an increase in personal happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not.
- Be grateful. There is a definite link between gratitude and happiness. Much scientific evidence has shown that gratitude has far-reaching effects on our health. When people are thankful and are good with things as they are, their physical health reflects that. They’re more likely to exercise, eat better, and take care of their health. Gratitude has a strong positive impact on psychological well-being as well. It increases self-esteem, enhances positive emotions and makes us more optimistic. Just like a muscle, when you exercise your thankfulness more often, you’re more likely to see beneficial effects.
- Pray. Prayer is one of the best means of happiness and contentment. We live in a world where sorrows abound. Prayers can serve as a reminder for everything that you have to be thankful for. Through prayers for happiness, you can ask your maker to inspire you and to uplift your spirits when you are down. When you remember his love and promise of everlasting life, even the most difficult challenges suddenly seem much easier to bear.
- Live honestly. True self is our best self. The more honest you are with yourself, the greater happiness you will experience. Being truthful brings about inner ease and happiness flourishes. When we aren’t honest we feel unsteady, anxious, and uprooted – everything that happiness is not. Truth is peaceful, in fact, one of its most beautiful qualities is that it is very grounding. Focusing on honesty is a way to actively engage with the world, versus passively complaining about it. Honesty can also make you feel better about yourself. When you know you’re being truthful, it can boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.