Happiness - What can you change?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America www.adaa.org Americans spent 42 Billion Dollars /Year in 2016 for the effects of Stress and Anxiety. With another 148 Billion Dollars in 2016 towards Mental Health.
What we spend our time and mental energy focusing on can indeed become our reality.
Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realization that we can.
There is not single meaning; happiness is relative to the person experiencing it. The best judge of how happy you are is you.
Happiness is defined as the experience of positive emotions, pleasure combined with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose. Happiness implies a positive mood in the present and a positive outlook for the future.
Martin Seligman, pioneer in psychology, has broken it down into 3 components: pleasure, engagement and meaning. His studies conclude that people who pursue only pleasure experience only part of the benefits happiness can bring, while those who pursue all 3 routes lead the fullest lives.
Aristotle used the term, eudaimonia, which translate to human flourishing. So happiness can be the joy we feel striving for our full potential.
The chief engine of happiness is positive emotions, which is a feeling. Most common positive emotions are:joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.
When we use our resources to look at things through a lens of gratitude, hope , resistance, optimism and meaning. We can’t change reality through sheer force of will alone, but we can use our brain to change how we process the world, and that in turn changes how we react to it.
Happiness is not about lying to ourselves or turning a blind eye to the negative, but about adjusting our brain so that we see the ways to rise above our circumstances. The mental construction of our daily activities, more than the activity itself, defines our reality.
When we scan and focus on the positive we profit from 3 of the most important tools available: happiness, gratitude and optimism. The more you pick up on the positive the better you will feel. The opportunities to feel positive the more gratitude you will feel. Few things in life are as integral to our well-being as gratitude. Grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving and less likely to be depressed, anxious or lonely. Gratitude has shown to be a significant cause of positive outcomes. As gratitude grows you can become happier, more optimistic, feel more socially connected, and enjoy better quality sleep.
Robert F. Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”.
Optimism is a byproduct of being happier and more grateful because with happiness and gratitude comes the expectation that this will continue. Optimists set higher and more difficult goals than pessimists. They put more effort into attaining those goals, stay engaged in the face of difficulty and rise above obstacles more easily. Optimists cope better in high stress situations and have a better ability to maintain high levels of well-being during times of hardship.
So focus on tiny incremental changes. Without action though the knowledge is meaningless.
Aristotle “to be excellent we cannot simply think or feel excellent, we must act excellently.” Action is hard, just take small steps at first. Continuous action will soon become a habit and will not evoke effort, thought or choice. Habits form because our brain actually changes in response to this new frequent pattern. The path of least resistance is lack of action and this will lead to unhappiness. So we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones constantly to stay productive and happy.
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Excerpts of this article were encouraged by Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage