By Georgianna Donadio, PhD – We all want to be happy. Yet few of us know how to achieve happiness on a day-to-day basis. We may be happy when something wonderful happens; but if something not-so-wonderful happens, we can easily find ourselves feeling angry, depressed, disappointed or just plan unhappy. Learn to take control of your happiness every day.
There are simple things we can all do to develop our skills for becoming and remaining happy in spite of whatever may be going on around us or things that might befall us. That is not to say that we should not be concerned or sad if someone we loved is ill or that we should not react to losing our job or having the landlord sell our apartment building for condo development.
But by developing and strengthening our “happiness muscle,” we can maintain our happiness and bounce back from adversity easier and faster.
Here is a simple yet powerful tool we can all apply daily to help us find a balance point with all the ups and downs that we find ourselves dealing with.
Keeping Track To Control Of Your Happiness
Start writing down every day the specific things you are grateful for. A 2003 gratitude study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Robert Emmons of the University of California and Michael McCullough of the University of Florida, showed that when we keep track through journaling about or making lists of what we are grateful for every day, we experience a higher reported level of the positive states — alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy — compared to people who journal or write down negative interactions, complaints or grievances.
Positive journaling also results in the reaching out to others and helping those in need.
During the time the study was being conducted, each of the participants continued to help others in less fortunate circumstances on a weekly basis. This, in turn, connected the participants to a fulfilling experience of giving and receiving compassion and caring.
Caring for others also translated into a greater sense of caring for themselves for the participants and brought about a sustained sense of happiness or contentment even when less desirable events occurred. We can develop our happiness skills and happiness sustainability by focusing on being grateful for the positive things in our lives every day and by focusing less on the things we may want but don’t have. This makes us more compassionate of others and well as of ourselves.
For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.
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