Happiness is not hard but it is not that easy either
If you only read one thing, make it this:
“Although many people say they’d like more happiness, in reality they don’t prioritise it, make a plan to achieve it, or work consistently on it.”
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you – that’s what the hit song ‘Happy’ told us. But it turns out lots of people don’t know what happiness means to them – which makes trying to achieve it pretty difficult.
“There are many myths and misconceptions about happiness, and even if we understand it, it will mean different things to different people,” says positive psychologist Dr Tim Sharp, aka Dr Happy.
There are also a ton of things people typically believe will make them happy, but don’t, he says, including the myths that:
- More money will lead to more happiness. “It can, but only if you spend it right and not nearly as much as people think.”
- More things or possessions will make us happy.
- Happiness depends on pleasing others. “It’s unrealistic to expect to please everyone all the time.”
- Happiness is something we either have or we don’t have, we’re either born with it or not “The reality is it’s something we can work on and create more of,” Sharp says.
Is happiness ‘hard’?
As well as false beliefs about happiness taking us further away from unpleasant emotions like anger or sadness, Dr Sharp says there’s another reason people can find it difficult to achieve lasting happiness.
“Although many people say they’d like more happiness, in reality they don’t prioritise it, make a plan to achieve it, or work hard enough or consistently enough on it,” he says.
Unless you make it a priority, it will, he says, “get lost in the busy-ness of life”.
So, how do you achieve (true) happiness?
Feeling and expressing gratitude – by acknowledging and appreciating all of the goodness that’s already in your life – is one way proven to boost happiness levels.
Some other happiness-boosting tips prescribed by Dr Happy include:
- Determine and work on meaningful goals (learn how here)
- Live a healthy life, with adequate sleep, a good diet and enough exercise
- Develop optimistic thinking (hello – glass half full)
- Have regular interactions with family and friends, and develop and foster good quality connections
- Have fun! This can fall by the wayside, especially as we get older
Don’t forget – happiness and gratitude are choices, and something we have to actively work on – not just once – but always. That said, if you’re struggling with low mood, your GP is a great place to start for some advice.
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