How to be happy
Happiness is something we all seek, but do we know what we're looking for? Tolstoy wrote that it is "your ability to love others." Victor Hugo, on the other hand, believed it is "the conviction that we are loved." "Eat, Pray Love" author Elizabeth Gilbert defined happiness as "the consequence of personal effort," while Walt Whitman considered it to be "this place, this hour."
All of these definitions of happiness can be accurate. It depends on what is most important to you—because you are the key to your happiness. Authentic happiness occurs when we find satisfaction in what we do and what we have. But when we look to other people or things to supply us with happiness, we set ourselves up for discontent.
Unstuck HELPS US ACHIEVE WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO US
Unstuck, a free iPad app, helps us push through our stuck moments so we can live better every day. When we make it our job to improve a situation, whether it's solving a work problem, settling a relationship issue, or finally getting to the gym, we improve our capacity to be happy. Watch a one-minute video about getting unstuck.
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9 tips to help you get happier
1Develop positive habits (like those listed here). Commit to one, and notice the results. A sense of accomplishment will boost self-esteem, motivating you to acquire other good habits.
2Spend more time with people you care about. The connection is nothing less than life-affirming.
3Practice gratitude. Each day, write down five things you are thankful for. It can be as simple as having enough milk for your cereal. Learn why gratitude makes you happier.
4Exercise. Immediately, you'll sleep better and worry less (it's hard to fret when you're focused on lunges). Keep it up and you'll increase your endorphins, which produce a sense of well-being.
5Get a good night's sleep. When we're sleep-deprived, the world can look a lot worse than it is.
6Savor the everyday and your perspective on life will become more positive. If you tend to find fault with things, make a point of looking for something good each time you spot a defect.
7Strive for realistic optimism. When making plans, assume they will succeed—just don't assume they will magically succeed. Learn how to be a realistic optimist.
8Don't compare yourself to others. It breeds dissatisfaction with yourself and with others.
9Let go of perfection. You've got flaws, we all do. Accept them, work on them if you can, but focus more on your strengths. They are a source of happiness.
WHAT MAKES US HAPPY?
Social psychologist Professor Michael Argyle, author of "The Psychology of Happiness," believed that happiness consists of three components: positive emotions, the absence of negative emotions, and a general sense of satisfaction with life. During the 15 years he studied human happiness, he found that neither wealth nor expensive items could, in and of themselves, make people happy. Rather, he identified four necessary conditions for a happy life:
- One close relationship.
- A strong network of friends.
- A fulfilling job at a realistic level for your skills.
- An absorbing and challenging leisure interest. This can include reading, music, travel, sports, art, and, surprisingly, watching soap operas.
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT FROM HAPPINESS
Deciding to be happy is a good first step. But if your hopes for happiness are pie-in-the-sky, you probably won't get where you want to be. It may be thorny to describe what happiness is, but it's simple to list what it isn't. Don't expect:
- Your path in life will be clear and decisions will come easily.
- You'll be in a constant good mood.
- Someone or something else is the key to your happiness.
- There is a formula that will make you happy.
- Everyone will like you all the time.