Happiness is a tricky character. To some, it’s a nebulous idea, to others, an elusive destination. It’s tough to describe, but we know it when we feel it, and we spend our lives doing things we hope will make us feel it more often.
Lately, a host of scientific research on happiness has exploded into the mainstream media. Millions of dollars have been spent on hundreds or thousands of surveys and tests in the hopes of determining which things tend to create happiness in humans. The researchers have found a few common themes:
Positive Relationships Those with strong, positive relationships tend to report higher levels of happiness. Whether these relationships are with family members, friends or a spouse or partner, the important thing is that the relationship is a deep one, filled with mutual trust and respect.
Social Interaction In addition to having a few deep relationships, just getting out and being among people for an hour every day can boost your happiness levels tremendously. I turns out, the sense of community and belonging that comes with regular social interaction leave us feeling fulfilled.
Do Work That’s Important to You Here’s a surprise – busy people are happier! But only if they are busy doing things they consider important /and/ they don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed. By contrast, both those with more time on their hands than they know what to do with and those who are run ragged with too much to do report lower levels of happiness.
Be Generous, But Not to a Fault Individuals who give of their time, money and talents report being happier, but not if they feel they’re being taken advantage of.
Forget About Stuff and Money Those who earn enough money to cover their basic needs actually report being happier than those who are wealthier. Possessions also have the same inverse relationship to happiness – the more you have, the less likely you are to be happy. The real key with money and possessions, though, is to compare yourself to others who have the same or less than you, and not to those who have more. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is the worst thing you can do for your happiness.
Happiness is Personal What the studies don’t account for is the fact that we are each unique individuals, so the recipe for a happy life won’t look the same from one person to the next. The above findings were based on averages, and averages often don’t apply to us as individuals.
You have your own personality, your own life history, your own current social and financial situation. Things may not be exactly as you’d want them to be, but the good news is that you can be happy in spite of that fact. Happiness is a state of mind, after all, and by cultivating an attitude of positivity and gratitude for all of the good things you have, you can instantly increase your own happiness quotient.
Read more about how to Be Happy.