'Happiness is an ongoing process' - Ed Diener, Positive Psychologist
The World Happiness Report was released last month. It's a comprehensive look at who is happy, where they are, how happiness is measured globally, 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! 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. (So easy that you're probably doing them already).
1. Learn new things. Do you buy things to make yourself happy? New clothes? New gadget? New car? New purchases make us happy for a short while then we adapt to their presence and that happiness dwindles. It's not lasting happiness.
Research tells us that if you spend your money on experiencing or learning your happiness increases and that happiness sticks around. The new experience becomes part of you and you continue to draw on that and grow as a result.
If you're like me and have a love of learning, reading books and taking courses will make you happy. If you're the adventurous type, skydiving, skiing or mountain climbing might be your jam. Enjoy travel? Take a trip, a walking tour or explore a new area.
Whatever it is that you do to learn and grow, do more of it! Be mindful about it, savour the experience, focus on what you're learning, reflect and enjoy the happiness.
2. Do things for others. There's plenty of research to show that helping others boosts our happiness. Volunteering, helping out, caring for a family member or participating in helpful community activities has be shown to:
- Increase our life satisfaction,
- Contribute to our sense of meaning,
- Enhance our feelings of competence,
- Improve our mood,
- Reduce our stress and
- Distract us from our own challenges!
If you need a happiness boost right now, think about how you are helping others - at home, within your community or at work. Acknowledge the difference you make to others, even in small ways, and know 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 but our relationships are critical to our well being and happiness. Other people matter! Close, supportive and secure relationships with partners, children, family and friends bring happiness and contribute to our overall health and longevity. Research shows that 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.
Most of us have people in our lives who are important to us but we don't always pay those relationships the attention we could. To boost your happiness, you can...
- 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 someone today. You'll both benefit.
4. Be part of something bigger. Finding purpose in your life and being connected to something bigger than yourself contributes to your well being. It could be a meaningful career, a cause, a community, a club or any activity that helps you to serve others and makes a difference to your life.
Think for a moment, where do you find meaning and what difference does it make to you? There's an instant and accessible happiness boost right there!
What do you do to give yourself a happiness boost? Do you doing any of the above? Or do you have some work to do?