We’ve all heard the old adage we are what we eat. Well this is also very true about “we are what we decide to feel and think!” Thoughts do create real emotions and trigger a series of events that we then attract and magnetize to us.
Isn’t it true that most of us are always chasing something—be it a new promotion, a fancy car, a vacation or maybe a better relationship? Unfortunately this kind of thinking leads to the belief that, “When that stuff happens, I’ll finally be happy or feel successful.”
I love Marci Shimoff’s book “ Happy for No Reason.” In her book, she talks about the 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out, where she offers a breakthrough approach to being happy, one that doesn’t depend on achievements, goals, money, relationships, or anything else “out there.” Most books on happiness tell you to find the things that make you happy and do more of them. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, it won’t bring you the kind of deep and lasting happiness most people long for – the kind you’ll never lose, no matter what happens in your life.
First of All, Can You Be Too Happy?
On a few occasions I recall receiving remarks that came in the form of sarcasm or suspicion from people who saw me being so passionate and excited about my new business they would say something like, “what the hell are you on! You’re always so energetic and darn happy!” They even suspected that perhaps I was part of a cult or something because no one is that happy all the time! I thought they were joking, but they really meant it.
If we’re TOO happy it can insinuate that our enthusiasm and joy are somehow false. Then we wonder if we should try to suppress this joy around certain people. Here’s a great response to anyone who tries to shoot us down from our “Happy place” with a reply that goes like this. “I’m excited about a lot of things in my life and if this is due to being surrounded by other excited and positive people then I’m good with it. And by the way if this is some sort of “cult”, then I really think I’d rather be a part of this cult than the one that says we should be miserable because life is tough and we all have plenty we could choose to complain about.
My advice for whatever it’s worth is to continue releasing joy and enthusiasm into the world in spite of everything and in spite of others fearful or suspicious reactions. Check out these 8 happiness factors you are in control of.
1.) External Rewards Don’t Last.
Yes, it is possible some of these significant events that happen can make us happy for a while but unfortunately that glow does wear off pretty quickly. We know from all the research in the area of human behaviour that happiness doesn’t last if it comes from external things alone.
A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.
The myth that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have actually created a name for this: It’s called impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is very fleeting.
Happiness is something WE create or WE don’t! It only lasts if its earned through real effort and your participation in the activity that brought it about. If money is handed to us, we don’t feel happy for very long but if through our struggles and overcoming challenges we earn a good sum of money, we feel both pride and happiness.
2.) Appreciate Every Small Win and Pleasure.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily routines and the mundane activities and obligations of our day that we fail to appreciate the little things that happen. Happy people have learned how important it is to savour the flavours of every mouthful they bite into. Maybe its the amazing conversations they had that day or the connections they made with an old friend, or even just being out in nature and enjoying the flowers or trees on their morning stroll.
3.) Participate in Regular Physical Activity or Sports.
Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA which is a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you calm. Happy people schedule regular exercise because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood and their productivity in every area of their life.
4.) Surround Yourself With Great People.
Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity and is flat-out more fun! Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. It would be best to distance yourself from these negative influences and go find some happy positive people to reinforce what you want more of.
5.) Stay Positive Whatever the Circumstances.
Bad things happen to all of us and this includes happy and successful people too. Why do we complain about how things could have been or should have been? Instead why not choose to be grateful for everything including the lessons that actually do come from so called bad experiences.
Always be open and seeking for the best solutions to problems. But first we have to acknowledge them and figure out how to get past them quickly. A pessimistic attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: hence if you expect bad things to happen, you will likely experience more negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are very illogical too. Most often if you really examine things closely and with complete emotional detachment, you will discover things are never as bad as they seemed at first glance.
6.) Get Good Sleep!
The importance of a good solid sleep is paramount in improving your mood, focus, and thoughts. When you sleep, your brain recharges, plus you eliminate toxins that accumulate during the day as a result of just regular brain activity. Your energy, concentration, productivity and memory are drastically reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels without any apparent stressor even being detected. Happy people know sleep is super vital to them, because it makes them feel great!
7.) GIVE Regularly.
Taking the time to help people not only makes us happy, but also makes us happier. Giving to others offers increased oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which deliver more of the Feel Good hormones in our body. A Harvard study, showed those who helped others were 10 times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. Helping others has a most positive influence on your mood and translates into us being more fulfilled, knowing that we are contributing good in the world.
8.) Embrace Personal Growth.
We all know people who have stopped growing personally and have a very fixed or rigid mindset. Often perfectionists, they suffer from feelings that are the opposite of happy because nothing is ever quite perfect. We are all meant to grow learn and develop over the course of our entire lifetime. Fixed mindsets believe strongly that they are the way they are and proclaim they simply cannot change.
Of course this is entirely false because we are all changing every day. If anything challenges or pushes them to handle more than they feel capable of, it pushes them into a state of overwhelm. However, those who adapt and embrace a growth mindset and believe that they can and will improve over time are much happier. They can handle the curve balls thrown in their path and instead of resisting growth and challenge, they embrace them as opportunities to learn more skills and become better.
Truly happy people have learned disciplined habits that ensure happiness day in, day out. If you learn and practice these habits on a regular basis you will soon learn the secret to achieving positive happiness factors within you!