Everybody wants to be happy. However, happiness is an abstract concept that can be defined differently per person. Someone can be happy by having lots of friends and family while others are happy by getting that dream job or by making lots of money. Despite these differences, researchers found some general similarities in achieving happiness. This can be translated into keys. So, what are these keys that lead to happiness?
You control your happiness
The first key is to realize that you are in control of your happiness because happiness is a feeling that comes from within. It’s important to take responsibility for your happiness and to work on it. Ask yourself what makes you happy or what you want to achieve. Write down concrete ways on how to achieve this. Some goals aren’t instantly achievable, but can be achieved through different steps. Make sure that you use the time you have efficiently because good time management can, according to research, helps with lowering stress and can add to a better quality of life (Misra,2000; Wang, 2011). This is important because we have the tendency to procrastinate or to waste time: Binge watching Netflix series or putting off assignments are classic examples. Losing time is not always bad, but it can interfere with attaining our (long term) goals which causes stress, anxiety and worries. Having goals will help you with challenging yourself and will result in learning new things.
A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward. Research shows that being kind is good not only for others, but also for yourself. Brain parts associated with pleasure light up when executing altruistic behavior. According to research, kindness helps to make connections between people, raising your sense of meaning and decreasing stress (Tkach, 2006; Post,2005). This in turn, all contributes to your happiness.
Gratitude helps people focus on the positive emotions they experience. Something a lot of us do not focus on enough, because we have the tendency to take the good things for granted and focus on the things that go wrong in our daily lives. This partially makes sense, because this automatic response helps to prevent future mistakes. However, a consequence of this is that it can lead to good things passing you by without you noticing them.
In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful but the gratefulness that makes us happy.
Take care of your body
Body and mind are interconnected. Research shows that it is beneficial for the mind when you take care of the body, even when you experience negative emotions or stress. For example, a meta-study of Martinsen (2005) suggests that the effects of movement therapy are equivalent to those of antidepressants for the treatment of light and mild forms of depression. In addition, it is important to eat healthy, to go outside and to get a sufficient amount sleep. When you take this into account, the result will be a better state of mind.