Six new approaches that will change the way you view happiness
There are many areas that matter to us in life and work but one aspect that is important but often neglected is the concept of Happiness. This article aims to show that Happiness does matter and that we can become happier if we want to.
Whatever the time of year, I would venture to say that happiness is a universal desire across cultures. So, how happy are you? What makes you happy?
I consider myself a happy person and am intrigued to understand more about this subject and so embarked on Happiness studies. The Happiness concepts really resonated with me. I wondered how I could share some happiness concepts with others to increase well-being. But isn’t individual difference in happiness influenced by genetics? Can we actually make a difference to our happiness level? Yes! Positive psychology science with its evidence based research suggests that individual difference in happiness is indeed strongly influenced by our genes. However, researchers also found that people’s happiness is also very much under their own control if they are willing to put in the effort and do the work.
This is most encouraging as it means we can increase and achieve happiness if we work on it. There are numerous meaningful positive insights on happiness which are beyond the scope of this article. I would like to share with you my top six happiness approaches. They are:
- The Happiness Formula
- Positive Emotions
- Meaning making
- Believe in Yourself
Let’s look at each one:
1. What is the Happiness Formula? We are born with a set range which is a genetically determined level of happiness that remains relatively stable throughout the life span. Happiness = Set Point + Circumstances + Voluntary – where S50% + C10% + V40%.
The set point determines our happiness up to 50%. This means we have another 50% to control the remaining portion. C is for life Circumstances which include aspects such as getting married, have social connections, close friendships, having engaging work, enjoy leisure, personal development; which make up 10%. Then, V is for voluntary control like intentional and effortful practices a person can choose to do which makes up the 40%. So, what is your Happiness formula and how can you go from happy to happier?
2. Positive Emotions – The power of positive emotions needs to be recognized and maximized as much as possible. Positive emotions like love and joy help ‘broaden and build’  on our range of action choices so we can become more open to possibilities available to us. In contrast, negative emotions such as fear and anger narrow our range of actions, choices and behaviours as it hinders our ability to be open and positive limiting our possibilities. How to broaden and build? Keep in mind these three ways – Positive emotions undo negative emotions, it helps enhance resilience and is also a way to leading a better life. So, how can you add more positivity in your life?
3. Gratitude – Happy people practice gratitude and are found to be relatively happier. You could strive to feel grateful by noticing how fortunate your circumstances are (and how much worse they could be). The practice of gratitude involves a focus on the present moment, appreciating your life as it is today and what has made it this way. It is a lot more than saying thank you. . Here are three ways gratitude help to boost happiness-Grateful thinking promotes the savouring of positive life experiences ,Expressing gratitude bolsters self-worth and self-esteem, and Gratitude helps people cope with stress.
Try this evidence-based intervention for practicing gratitude called ‘Three Good Things’, considered one of the most powerful of all positive psychology techniques . Follow these instructions – every night for a week, look back at your day just before you go to bed and think of three good things that went well for you during the day. Write them down and reflect on your role in them. Finally, do this by sticking to it for one week, or try it once a week for six weeks.
4. Optimism – Optimists have a sense of confidence about future events as they broadly expect that outcomes are positive. Pessimists, however, have a sense of doubt, hesitancy and broadly anticipate negative outcomes . Positive psychology research has found several advantages of being optimistic. Here are three examples: Optimists experience less distress than pessimists when dealing with challenges and they suffer much less anxiety and depression, Optimists are more likely to persevere and engage even in difficult times and Optimists set a number of goals and more challenging goals for themselves . Overall, optimism helps motivate us and lead us to action and change. So, do you have optimistic or pessimistic thinking?
5. Meaning-making – In the authentic happiness model,  Dr. Martin Seligman defines meaning and purpose in living when we live life as: The pleasant life, The good life, and The meaningful life filled with engagement, abundant and authentic gratification. To live all three lives is to lead a full life. People who strive for something personally meaningful like pursuing valued goals adds purpose to their life and is a key component to happiness . So, what is important to you? What gives you meaning in your life?
6. Believe In Yourself! – Believe that you are worthy of happiness and leading a life you love if that is what you want! Why? Because Happiness Matters and You Matter!
- The Happiness Formula  (Seligman, M, 2002, p.45)
- Positive Emotions-‘Broaden and Build’  (Frederickson, B, 2001)
- Gratitude  (Lyubomirsky, S, 2007, p.89),  (Sheldon& Lyubomirsky, S, 2004, Seligman et al., 2005)
- Optimism  (Boniwell, I, 2012, p.19),  (Lyubomirsky, S, 2007, p.108)
- Meaning making-  (Seligman, M, 2002,p.263),  Goal Pursuit (Lyubomirsky, S, 2007, p.214)