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Simple Steps to Happiness

I’ve written a number of blogs on happiness over the years. All have been useful reminders that, although a happy, healthy childhood and a genetic tendency toward happiness (called resilience) are important, our every day choices are major contributors to our moods. Here are highlights of what an AARP article says about happiness, (“A conversation with researcher and author Sonja Lyubomirsky,” AARP Bulletin by Hugh Delehanty 6/2016, p. 30).

  • “People get happier as they get older. The least happy are probably teenagers and people in their 20s.” That’s because older people, through trial and error, find out what actually makes them happy. Happiness is as individualistic as appetite. Only you (not your parents, friends, spouse, or partner) know what rings your chimes.
  • Many people appear unaware that they have the power to change their mood. We’ve all met folks who act as if they’re victims and their pleasure seems to come from getting sympathy for their misery. These people may well have been victimized early on or at times in their lives, but everyone has choices in adulthood.
  • “Most people are either present-oriented or future-oriented. The ideal is a combination of present and future with a tiny bit of the past.” We need to find flow in our lives, that state of losing consciousness of yourself and becoming one with your activity. I find it through client sessions, writing, being with good friends, and dance. In fact, I’m certain that if dysregulated eaters engaged in more flow, they’d have a better relationship with food and their bodies.
  • “When I asked people whom they compared themselves to, the happy ones didn’t even know what I was talking about. Sometimes they compared themselves to others, but they didn’t let those comparisons affect their self-worth as much as the unhappy people did.” Happy people know that there will always be those who are better or worse off than they are. They don’t think about it or compare. “People who are happy accrue a lot of positive outcomes.” They seek the positive, not the negative, and that is what they draw toward themselves.
  • “If you’re constantly asking yourself if you’re happy, the question is going to backfire.” Chasing happiness will not make you happy.

 

What are five things that make you happy, especially activities that put you in a state of flow or bliss? Do more of those activities to enhance your mood. Name five people who make you happy when you have contact with them, and seek them out in person, by email or phone, or through texting. What five places (near or far) make you happy to be in them? Spend more time there. We’re not talking rocket science here. Everyone can answer these questions and find ways to be happier.