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How to be happier and boost your well-being

Published by: LifeWorks,

Be happy

Happiness. Numerous philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and even economists have long sought to define it, and since the 1990s, a whole branch of psychology called positive psychology. But what is happiness? More than a mood or an attitude, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life—that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction.

Did you know that happiness is the single best word that captures the construct, or concept, of well-being?

When we are happy, we experience positive emotions that allow us to broaden our perspective and build our resources. On the flip side, when we’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed or are experiencing the symptoms of depression, we get tunnel vision and make shortsighted decisions out of our instinct for self-preservation. In these situations, we can often have trouble seeing the goodness in life, making it difficult to sustain the healthy habits that make us feel good and keep us on track. At its most basic level, stress can sabotage us and our best efforts.

How can you boost your level of happiness—the antidote to stress—in both the short term and long term?

Practice “gratitude spotting” and journaling

Study after study has found a strong association between higher levels of gratitude and well-being, including protection from stress and depression, more fulfilling relationships, better sleep and greater resilience. Being mindful of and reflecting on the things we are grateful for is key to happiness. Simple exercises that people can do on their own  – such as gratitude spotting and journaling – decrease worry and boost optimism and joy.

How-to: Keep a digital or paper journal and plan to find a quiet time and place every day to write down a minimum of three things you’re grateful for. By doing this, you are establishing a happiness-enhancing habit.

Savor life’s pleasures

Savoring is a great way to feel, enjoy, and extend our positive experiences fully – no matter how big or small. By practicing savoring, you pay attention any time you experience something positive. Whether that is about a happy, joyful event of the past, a small pleasure of the present or by thinking of future development or goal.

How-to:

  • Be in the moment and tell others how much it means to you.
  • Take a mental or physical souvenir to build memory, like a shell from the beach where you took your last
    vacation.
  • Fully appreciate and bask at the moment to remind yourself how long you’ve waited for this good thing.
  • Sharpen your perception by zeroing in on the “good stuff,” like closing your eyes while you enjoy a piece of
    music.
  • Afterwards, absorb and marvel in how you lost yourself in the moment.

 

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” 

Dalai Lama

Take action

Happiness isn’t something you find, or reach, or become—you learn happiness skills, just as you would learn any other skill. Happiness is a choice and comes from your actions. To increase your happiness, you need a strategic plan for action.

How-to:

Pick one strategy you’d like to practice from the list above and develop a goal outlining what you’ll do when you’ll do it, for how long, and on which days of the week. After practicing the habit for one to two weeks, do some self-reflection.

  • What benefits did you notice?
  • What did this practice provide for you?
  • What did you learn?

Read just the goal based on your newfound awareness and keep going. Research shows that there is a positive, cumulative effect when we increase our happiness, decrease our stress levels, and boost our resiliency in the long term.

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