Happiness is…

This post is from a while back but I feel that it’s so extremely helpful that I just had to share again. I truly hope it helps improve someone’s life!

Being happy is admittedly new for me within the past couple of years so I’m still high on it. I feel like happiness was this big secret being kept from me and now that I’ve found it, I just want to show the light to others. Last night, I thumbed through a book called The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven, Ph.D.

The table of contents lists all 100 in simplicity, if you aren’t interested in reading the actual book, but some of them need the explanation and often statistic that the book included. I used my fancy little Nook contraption to highlight the portions that stood out to me.

“Happy people do not experience one success after another and unhappy people, one failure after another. Instead, surveys show that happy and unhappy people tend to have had very similar life experiences. The difference is that the average unhappy person spends more than twice as much time thinking about unpleasant events in their lives, while happy people tend to see and rely upon information that brightens their personal outlook.”

So while your life may be exactly the same as your neighbor’s, they may be monumentally happier than you are. Your perception and attitude are making it or breaking it! Which also goes with the next one:

“Knowing whether someone has recently suffered a personal setback or personal triumph is not as good a predictor of how satisfied they are with their lives as is knowing how they perceive the causes and consequences of those events.”

Not long ago, I had several people insist that I must be unhappy due to some of my own “personal setbacks” but I just chose to view my setbacks as learning experiences and better myself through them.

“In studies of families, regularity in household routines improved daily personal satisfaction by about 5 percent.”

I definitely need to add this one to my own since my household is mostly run by a baby right now! I feel so much better when I am organized.

“Research on the effect of religion on life satisfaction found that regardless of what religion people affiliated themselves with, those who had strongly held spiritual beliefs were typically satisfied with life, while those who had no spiritual beliefs typically were unsatisfied.”

Recently, I mentioned noticing this about myself and others. Many of my spiritual beliefs remind me to be positive, grateful, and hopeful.

“An analysis of volumes of previous research on the subject shows a strong consensus that volunteering contributes to happiness by decreasing boredom and creating an increased sense of purpose in life. Volunteers, on average, are twice as likely to feel happy with themselves as non-volunteers.”

This is a given. We walk the March for Babies in 10 more days and the proceeds go to research and programs for premature babies! I’m also hoping to volunteer again at a retirement home sometime in the near future, it’s always so fulfilling to make others happy.

“While purposeful activity contributes to happiness, feelings of lost thoughts and opportunities contribute to an unhealthy frustration. People who feel like their best ideas escape them are 37 percent less likely to feel content than people who do not.”

I have experienced this one lately. I’ve been frustrated at what seems like a constant loss of memory. The chapter is titled “Keep a pen and paper handy.” and may be advice that I should heed. My dry-erase board has been getting more use than anything lately, too many great ideas come into this head and then go missing!

“We can accept critical words from those who are not close to use because we can believe they reflect a lack of knowledge about us rather than an actual flaw in us. From our friends and family, however, critical words cut deeply. Try to avoid fixing your friends and family. Love them for who they are. If you must say something negative, always be constructive. Make your criticism reflect your love and respect, not your disappointment.”

I think if you are on the receiving end, you need to consider that this is how that person lives. Don’t allow yourself to live the negativity of someone else. Take the time to feel happy that you don’t live that way, if nothing else!

Further listed as ways to increase happiness are community interactions, hobbies, listening to music, and reading as it engages the mind and exercises the memory and imagination.

One’s mood is contagious, as the book touches on when mentioning “a tendency was found for subjects to mimic the expressions around them”, so I have to touch on the topic of negativity on Facebook for a minute. When I started morphing my brain into happy mode, I hid the statuses that were consistently negative as I found that my mood would often reflect them unintentionally. It seems common to want to complain on Facebook but really, all of that negativity seems to just lead to a miserable social networking experience for everyone. Just consider that when your page is overtaken by constant negative posts, a dark cloud hangs over your page and everyone will either join you in your misery or avoid you.

I promise you that if you focus on the positive things that you do have, instead of the things that are going wrong or not to your liking, your attitude will immensely improve. You’re alive, let’s start with that and it feels good to be alive, but it feels even better to FEEL alive so get on it and make that life worth living by the power of thought!

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