For over 80 years, the Harvard Study of Adult Development has been tracking their students’ health and other participants to reveal clues about their mental well-being and understand what it takes for people to lead a healthy and happy life.
Started in 1938, this research has been one of the longest studies of adult life to date. Even President John F. Kennedy was once recruited for the research! Over the years, scientists studied the physical and mental health of their participants and made notes of their triumphs and failures, both in their personal and professional lives.
The researchers we surprised to find that people’s happiness had a positive correlation with their health, and happy people experienced a higher overall satisfaction with their quality of life.
But this led many people to ask one important question – “how do these scientists know how happy their participants were, and how did they measure it?”
If you too thought of the same question and have also often wondered about how happy people always keep an upbeat and positive attitude- good news! You’ve come to the right place. Read on to know more about what happiness truly is and how people live a happy life with positive emotions and attract good things and good fortune.
CAN HAPPINESS EVER BE MEASURED?
You must have heard people always talk about how to be in a good mood and have a more positive attitude towards life to increase your happiness, but how exactly do you measure your happiness?
Happiness is an emotion, an intangible feeling, and there is no way to quantify it. So, how do people gauge their own or somebody else’s happiness?
Happiness is subjective, and thus, nobody else can understand your happiness better than yourself. You do not need a metric measurement system to put a number or a rating to your good thoughts.
Happiness can be defined by judging the overall satisfaction you get from your own experiences and the quality of your life. On a more community level, self-reported surveys and tests are often the best way to understand a large group’s happiness. But this again comes down to each individual’s understanding of their happiness.
The next time somebody asks you about how happy you are, look within yourself and analyze your own positive emotions, happy experiences, and overall satisfaction with life to understand how happy you are.
Now that you have a better understanding of how you can judge your own level of happiness, here are some ways you can increase or rather improve your happiness levels. You too can be like some of those happy people you always see who seem to have such a positive attitude towards their lives and everything around them. Read ahead to get a few exciting ideas.
1. BUILD HAPPY AND POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS
According to the researchers of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the most important conclusions they arrived at was that positive relationships are key to leading a healthier and happier life.
When you feel lonely and cut off from the people closest to you, your mental and physical health can start declining over time, and this, in turn, adds more stress and unhappiness to your life.
The vicious cycle will continue until you decide to seek comfort in others and build a relationship with them. You do not have to seek a romantic partner to nurture a positive relationship.
A friend, a mentor, a parent are all people you can connect with to increase your happiness. Remember that the quality of these relationships matters more than the number of people you build a connection with. Keep your circle small if you like, but remember to give each positive relationship the time and effort it needs to develop.
Having a strong bond with other happy people will boost your overall happiness and put you in a good mood. Share all your experiences with your group and encourage each other to be the best versions of themselves. Seek connections with optimistic individuals that motivate you to be happy.
2. Find something you are passionate about
People often tend to get so caught up with their obligations and professional commitments that they neglect their passion.
As soon as you wake up, your mind races through the list of things you need to do for the day, all the assignments you need to submit, all the emails you have to get back to, and all the chores you need to do in the house.
Even though these are crucial tasks that cannot be ignored, they add little to no value to your overall happiness.
Happy people always ensure to work on their passions and goals. If you are one of the lucky ones to be in a career or field that has always been your passion, that is great.
But if what you do for a living does not align with your heart’s true passion, take some time out every day or every week to work on something you love the most.
Dancing, painting, volunteering at an animal shelter, carpentry, and anything that uplifts your mood should be something you have to set time aside for.
3. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
When was the last time you truly complimented yourself? Do you remember the last time you congratulated yourself and celebrated your little victories?
People are often their own worst critics and end up being very hard on themselves.
Here is a scenario for you to ponder on – What if you wanted to lose some weight one month and you did not achieve it. Think about all the negative self-talk you indulge in.
Now, think about a friend who also wanted to lose some weight but did not. Would you use these same words to berate your friend as well? You need to support and love yourself the same way you support and love your friends.
All the happiness and love you give out to others daily, do not forget to save some of that for yourself. It is okay to work on identifying your flaws and making plans to change certain things about yourself but do so with kindness. Happy people accept themselves for who they are even when working on changing for the better.
Changes do not happen overnight. So, give yourself some time, and a whole lot of love throughout the journey. And if things do not turn out the way you planned, remind yourself that it is okay and that you do not have to be at war with yourself. Love yourself and be kind to yourself to be genuinely happy.
4. TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO HAVE A MORE POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Findings from a research study in 2009 have shown that having a positive attitude towards life can increase your happiness and well-being.
If you have always been the glass-half-empty type of person, it will take some time to train your mind to see it as half-full, but it is not impossible.
Choosing to prioritize positive emotions is a sure-shot way of boosting your happiness. You need to train your brain to let go of the negative thoughts that are weighing you down.
This does not mean you ignore the adversities and pretend like everything is going right when it clearly is not. But you need to teach your mind not to mull over these thoughts and instead, focus on things that you can do to help yourself in that situation.
One of the most common ways of practicing a more positive outlook is by expressing gratitude. Learn to appreciate and be thankful for all the things in your life- your body, relationships, environment, and all of the often-overlooked blessings you might have taken for granted.
Convince yourself to be thankful for the good things that happen every day and then worry about everything else that has gone wrong. You can also try meditating to get more in tune with yourself and your thoughts.
The art of meditation takes time, so do not be disheartened if you don’t get it right the first couple of times. Happy people choose to wake up every day with a positive attitude and exhibit positive emotions whenever they can.
5. LIVE IN THE MOMENT AND ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS
It is easy to get caught up in the daily stresses of life and forget to stop and smell the flowers. You do not have to find a flower and smell it, but that would be awesome if you can do that. But in constantly working and hustling for a better future, people forget to live in the moment.
It is great to have goals and plans and work towards fulfilling all your dreams, but it is also important to observe and appreciate the little moments you live through every day.
Learn to be more mindful of the little joys in life and give them the attention they deserve. To truly live in the moment and savor it, you have to teach yourself to minimize multi-tasking. Productivity gurus teach people how to get the most out of every waking minute.
However, while trying to achieve several things at once, you do not have the time to enjoy the happiness of any one of them. The next time you order in your favorite pizza, do not gobble it down while working on your assignment. Sit back, relax, and take the time to enjoy the food and relish it truly. You can get back to your assignment after your meal. Even if you can only spare a few extra minutes every day, make them count.
You need to remember that your happiness is your responsibility, and you should not depend on other people to make you happy at all times. It is a good practice to surround yourself with other happy people to enhance your happiness, but you also need to learn how to be happy on your own.
Keep these five tips in mind and consciously work towards developing a more positive attitude every single day. Take time out for yourself and your thoughts and teach yourself to focus on the good things in life.
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