Published at 2019, March 20th
Happier people have better mental and physical health, more meaningful relationships and are more productive at work. But are we being taught how to live a happier life? We’re sharing 4 steps to help you live happier every day.
World Happiness Day: Are You Feeling Happy?
Happy Happiness Day! Today works as an excuse to remind us of what we sometimes forget or don’t have top of mind. Today is the day to ask ourselves questions like: Am I feeling happy and living a happy life? What makes me happy? How could I live a happier life? I mean – is there anything more important than happiness? I’d say yes, but we’ll get there.
These are quite busy times we are living in. In fact, time seems to be our most precious asset and perhaps the hardest one to manage. Not only because there are infinite events happening, projects to be part of, sports to play, things to learn, places to visit and different types of art to enjoy, but also because distractions are everywhere and the entertainment industry “steals” us loads of time.
In fact, how often do you stop to think if you’re satisfied with your life and whether you’re living a happy life? Imagine you’d ask the people surrounding you how they’re feeling. How’s everything going? How’s work? How are the kids doing? Would you mostly get an enthusiastic “everything is great!” and a sharing of what’s bringing joy to these people’s lives or would you get an “it’s ok, all good” as if life was just passing by? And if I asked you, who’s reading me right now, what would your answer be?
Happiness: An Individual And Unique Path
Most education systems are focusing on teaching everyone the same and killing creativity, Ken Robinson says. They’re (very) slowly adapting to a job market that’s not about human mechanization anymore, as it was in the industrial revolution times. Instead, our economy today favors the ones with different and rare skills able to supply the market’s specific demands.
The point is that generally speaking, schools aren’t pushing students to understand what they like doing, what they’re really good at, what makes them happy our what the world needs – the famous Japanese Ikigai. Nor are they keeping up with these modern times where knowledge is a Google search away and robots are coming and there’s no way we can bet their efficiency and speed. The first warning came when Garry Kasparov lost the first chess match to an IBM computer software in 1996 and today there seems to be no limit to what technology can achieve.
It’s not only schools that aren’t preparing students for a job market that is changing at a high-speed. This is also about absent parents that are drawing up in work. Because although the world is wealthier than ever like Robert Reich says in his Netflix documentary, this wealth is incredibly unequally distributed, as Oxfam lastest report shows, and adults need to work long hours for not so long wages. These parents then barely have time to help their young ones practice their strengths, understand and overcome their limitations and make objectives out of their dreams, so that one day they can be more than just dreams. These very same adults are often also struggling at jobs that don’t please them and are unable to pursue their ambitions due to society’s pressures and lack of guidance.
Is Life Just Passing By? How To Live A Happier Life?
How can I be happier? You might ask yourself. And what’s happiness after all? Depending on the culture we’re living in, people see happiness in different ways and have diverse beliefs about it. For instance, while Americans associate happiness with excitement, Japanese people see it more from a peace and calmness perspective. But overall, it is associated with a feeling of joy and satisfaction.
Today we’re sharing 4 ways to help you improve your everyday happiness and answer the question: how can I live a happier life?
Meditate, Practice Gratitude And Work Your Positive Thoughts
According to sources from the 2019 Global Happiness And Well-Being Report, mindfulness practices, counting kindnesses, expressing gratitude or meditating are great ways of developing the feeling of happiness. In fact, these practices together with developing healthy thinking habits help reduce depression anxiety and emotional exhaustion at work, and improve a person’s immune system, several studies say.
There are many different methods you can try out. Some people have gratitude journals, others practice the usual seated down meditation and others do active meditations. Some practice specific types of yoga (from Hatha yoga to Kundalini, Iyengar or Vinyasa) and others do cognitive-behavioral therapies. From doctors like Bruce Lipton to Joe Dispenza, there’s a whole world of academics working on these issues and many practices available. Perhaps one of them will help you live a happier life? If you never try you’ll never know…
From Me To Us: Develop Meaningful Relationships
Have you ever heard of Matthieu Ricard? He participated in a 12-year brain study on meditation and compassion from the University of Wisconsin. This experiment showed that Ricard, whose head was connected to 256 sensors, produced abnormal levels of gamma waves and excessive brain activity in the prefrontal cortex. This made him experience tremendous feelings of happiness and compassion.
Apart from meditating, the French monk also suggests that we start thinking more about other people’s well-being and focus less on ourselves and our material desires. In fact, he says minds wired with altruism and kindness lead more easily to feelings of well-being. This concerned for others is also in line with Simon Sinek’s ideas that what truly makes us happy are social connections and the feeling of community. Volunteering, giving a hand to this colleague at the office, offering a compliment or a symbolic gift – feels good, right?
Healthy Bodies, Happy Minds: Nature’s Positive Effect
Bodily well-being also influences psychological well-being. In fact, regular walks and eating healthy have been associated with higher levels of creativity and energy during the day. Furthermore, physical exercise, from cycling and resistance training to yoga and other sports, have been related to lower anxiety rates and to improvements in life satisfaction and cognitive functioning.
Moreover, spending more time in nature is also connected to higher feelings of well-being. Being closer to nature is also related to more positive emotions and increases human-nature connection. In fact, other studies suggest we should reconnect with nature and pay less attention to materialistic gains which have blindfolded us and made us lose our spirituality. Let’s spend some more time outside and confirm first-hand if it helps you live a happier life? Perhaps the Japanese already know the answer – what’s the forest bath all about after all?
Move From Happiness To Well-Being
Accepting that life isn’t meant to be made only of happy moments is key. There’s something we should aim more than happiness: well-being. Well-being is an absence of ill-being of course, the absence of experiences such as depression or chronic anxiety. In this way, well-being interventions focus on moving people to feel good, more than making them not feel unhappy.
Life is never going to be all about fun, full of smiles and give you always an easy and enjoyable time. Everyone has their own challenges and emotions like sadness, anger, madness, loss are part of our human experience just like happiness or love. If we develop our emotional intelligence and see life as a place where we can experience all these emotions, we’ll be able to feel better even when going through not so pleasant emotions like anger or sadness.