How to Increase Happiness
According to medical experts, our level of happiness greatly influences our overall health. We all know how detrimental stress can be for our health, especially for a long-term period. There is a lot of medical evidence that confirms its negative health effects and is the number one reason for many diseases. On the other side, experts have found the happier we are, the better will be our immunity. However, we often fail to attain the state of happiness and be happy. Maybe the reason for this lies in a common misinterpretation of happiness. We frequently confuse the state of happiness with feelings of pleasure. Since the feelings of pleasure depend on our external achievements and directly correspond to our goals, happiness is the state that does not depend on anything. What does it actually mean? External things and goals like business promotion, money, a new house, a new car, new sexual partner, etc., will bring us the feelings of pleasure, but not happiness. The feelings of pleasure do not last. To maintain these feelings, it is not enough to keep the status quo. On the contrary, we always have to achieve more if we want to feel those feelings again. And it is quite clear that sooner or later we will reach the point where we cannot attain ‘more’ and begin suffer. To make happiness a habit and a long-term state, the article “Choosing to Be Happy” gives us some useful strategies.
How to Increase Happiness
Happiness Strategy # 1: Don’t Worry, Choose Happy
Today, psychologists who study happiness heartily agree. The intention to be happy is the first of The 9 Choices of Happy People listed by authors Rick Foster and Greg Hicks in their book of the same name.
Happiness Strategy #2: Cultivate Gratitude
In his book, Authentic Happiness, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman encourages readers to perform a daily “gratitude exercise.” It involves listing a few things that make them grateful. This shifts people away from bitterness and despair, he says, and promotes happiness.
Happiness Strategy #3: Foster Forgiveness
Holding a grudge and nursing grievances can affect physical as well as mental health, according to a rapidly growing body of research. One way to curtail these kinds of feelings is to foster forgiveness. This reduces the power of bad events to create bitterness and resentment, say Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons, happiness researchers who edited The Psychology of Happiness.
Happiness Strategy #4: Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings
you can practice meditation, rhythmic breathing, yoga, or relaxation techniques to quell anxiety and promote serenity. You can learn to recognize and challenge thoughts you have about being inadequate and helpless.
Happiness Strategy #6: Foster Friendship
There are few better antidotes to unhappiness than close friendships with people who care about you, says David G. Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness. One Australian study found that people over 70 who had the strongest network of friends lived much longer.
Happiness Strategy #7: Engage in Meaningful Activities
People are seldom happier, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, than when they’re in the “flow.” This is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. Yet, he has found that the most common leisure time activity — watching TV — produces some of the lowest levels of happiness.
To make happiness our inner state, we need to change our focus from external to internal. We need to ask ourselves what makes us happy. Of course, it is not that easy. To make happiness a long term statement, we need to adopt some tool or technique that can lift our spirits, and stick to it. Meditation is the most useful technique that can affect our inner state in a positive way. It is a powerful tool that can bring us inner peace and free us from any unnecessary burden. Through practicing meditation, we can deliberately choose what we want to focus on that helps us shifting our attention from negative to positive. Meditation can also help us build inner strength and get rid of negative emotions. In this way, meditation practice will significantly improve our health and immune system.