'Mindfulness cultivates our ability to do things knowing that we're doing them' Mark Williams, author
The World Happiness Report 2015 was released last month. It's a comprehensive look at who is happy, where they are, how happiness is measured globally, happiness and socio-economic development, how we can improve our children's happiness and the neuroscience of happiness. It's balm to a positive psychologist's heart.
The report is big - 172 pages - and it covers some complex topics. The good news is that you don't need to read 172 page of report to increase your happiness. Here are some quick happiness wins that are so easy you're probably already doing them. Just be mindful to your everyday activities to get the full benefit.
Quick happiness wins you're probably already doing
1. Learn new things. Are you guilty of buying new things to make yourself happy? I know I am. 'I must have those new Gorman pants. They will make me so happy.' My Gorman clothes do make me happy but when we acquire new things - clothes, shoes, gadgets, homewares - it makes us happy for a short while then we adapt to their presence and that happiness dwindles. It's not really lasting happiness.
Research tells us that if you spend your money on experiencing or learning new things however, your happiness increases and that happiness sticks around. Our experience and our knowledge becomes part of us and we continue to draw on that and grow as people as a result. This is a contented and more sustainable happiness.
If you're anything like me and have a love of learning you're always buying books and enrolling in courses. If you're the adventurous type you might be signing up to jump out of a plane or climb a mountain. You might spend your money on travel or walking tours or open gardens. Whatever it is that you already do to learn and grow, be mindful about it, think about what you're learning, reflect on those experiences and enjoy the happiness.
2. Do things for others. There are many studies now that show that helping others boosts our happiness. By volunteering, coming to someone's assistance, caring for a family member or participating in helpful community activity we:
- Increase our life satisfaction,
- Contribute to our sense of meaning,
- Enhance our feelings of competence,
- Improve our mood
- Reduce our stress and
- It can distract us from our own challenges.
They're all wins! If you need a happiness boost right now, think about how you are already helping others - at home, within your community, at work. Applaud yourself for your efforts and really soak in the satisfaction of knowing that you are not only of service to others but you're boosting your wellbeing at the same time.
3. Connect with others. The people in our lives can be a source of stress at times, I know, but our relationships are in fact critical to our well being and happiness. Close, supportive and secure relationships with partners, children, family and friends bring happiness and contribute to our overall health and longevity. Research shows that having high levels of social and family support contributes to a reduction in heart disease, an increase in general immunity and benefits to our cognitive capabilities as we age.
Almost all of us have people in our lives who are important to us but we don't always pay those relationships the attention we should. If you're in need of a happiness boost you might like to:
- Do something fun with family or a friend and enjoy some shared positive emotion.
- Have an open, meaningful conversation with someone.
- Offer help to a friend in need or a shoulder to cry on
- Just connect with another person today. You'll both benefit.
4. Be part of something bigger. I wrote a little while ago about finding purpose in your life and how being connected to something bigger contributes to your well being. You might not have found a meaningful career purpose quite yet but there is bound to be a cause, a community or a group that you are part of that makes a difference to your life.
What activities are you involved in that give you a strong sense of meaning? Are you part of a community or religious group? Do you volunteer for a charity? Are you a lifelong, active member of a sporting group? A political, advocacy or support group? Maybe you have found meaning within yourself through a reflective practice such as meditation?
Think for a moment about where you find meaning in life and what that means to you. Being mindful about all of the positive elements in our lives gives us an instant and accessible happiness boost. A quick win. Told you.
What do you do to give yourself a happiness boost? Are you doing any of the above? Or do you have some work to do? I'd love to hear about it.
Source: Action for Happiness