You’ve heard the saying that money won’t make you happy. The truth is that it does! But what’s not properly explained is that it doesn’t make you very happy for a long time. It only makes you a little happy for a short time!
Every person has a happiness set point to which they return after the initial euphoria dissipates. If you can imagine a happiness pie chart, 50% of it is your heritable set point, 10% of it is the events in your life and the other 40% is the intentional activities that can increase your happiness.
Happiness consists in activity. It’s a running stream, not a stagnant pool. With that in mind, below is a partial list of intentional activities that will increase your happiness. Practice them and see how your life will change for the better in no time at all.
Happiness Activity No. 1: Expressing Gratitude when you focus on what’s good in your life and are thankful for it.
The Universe acknowledges and appreciates your recognition and will give you more! A big part of happiness is accepting what you have, and being grateful for all your blessings in your life. Everyone has many things to be grateful for no matter how bad things may be in their lives. Look at your life from the right angle and you see nothing but beauty.
Happiness Activity No. 2: Looking at the Bright Side of Things, always.
This means cultivating optimism, no matter how bleak things appear to be. Is the glass half full or half empty? Many times when this subject comes up with one of my students, he or she claims they’re positive already. I simply shake my head and continue our discussion by leading them into scenarios which require their input. It becomes obvious after a while that their comments or body language don’t support their “positive outlook.” They simply choose to be selective and not all encompassing. Gradually, they begin to see my point, which is that most of us are pessimistic about life because it takes work to stay positive. Make it a daily practice to look at things from the bright side. Say only things that cultivate optimism. When you catch yourself falling into the old negative habits, stop and reverse course immediately. I know how tough things are these days, but your tomorrow can always be better only when we choose to see it that way. Say to yourself, I know my past has been tough, but my future is bright. Inspire hope and optimism within yourself by talking to yourself in an empowering fashion. They say it takes 21 days to change habits. I’m not sure how true that is, but I know with meditation and self talk you can gradually change your bad negative habits into great positive perspectives.
Happiness Activity No. 3: Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison.
Everyday is a new day with its unique gifts, surprises and challenges. When the day is over, be done with it. No need to keep going back to analyze it over and over, as you won’t be able to change a thing. As the great poet Omar Khayyam once said: “The moving hand writes and having writ moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit could lure it to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out one word of it.” When it’s done, even if it was a minute ago, it’s as if it has been gone for thousands of years!
Overthinking about the past or the future is a practice in futility. You let things come and go while you observe them without judgement, remorse or resentment.
Another decease of humanity is social comparison. When you compare yourself with others in any aspect, from money to ability from status to family, etc., you’re inviting jealousy and an inferiority complex into your life. These are bad habits that could lead to depression in the long run.
The fact is that you are your own best source of comparison. How you are today compared to yesterday is the only true measure of your success in life. Forget others, as each person is a genius in somethings and here on earth for his or her own mission.
Happiness Activity No. 4: Practicing Acts of Kindness.
Have you noticed how good you feel after a kind of deed? It’s been well documented that acts of kindness will boost your morale, raise your happiness level and sets the stage for the Universe to give you back what you have put into it: positive, helpful energy to other human beings. It’s the law of karma which states what goes around comes around. You will see the effect of what you cause sooner or later.