Can You Learn To Be Happier?

» Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Alpha Blog | 0 comments

Can You Learn To Be Happier?

The Research

Research from the fields of positive psychology and psychoneuroimmunology reveal that despite genetic predispositions to happiness or depression, you have enormous power to move up the scale of happiness.

Who Are the Happiest People?

People who make certain behaviors a part of their everyday lives are much happier and more satisfied with their lives than are those in whom these behaviors are absent or minimal.

What Are The Most Evidence-Based Behaviors to Improve Happiness?

  • Social support: This requires work, unless you happen to be one of the lucky ones surrounded by lots of loving and supportive family or friends.
  • Belonging: Around the world, the happiest people are those who have a strong sense of belonging within a particular community.
  • Serving others: All the research confirms that the happiest people are those who either do formal volunteer work, or informally are quick to offer help to others.
  • Meaning and purpose: Some people find meaning and purpose in a very satisfying and rewarding career. Others find it in being a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent. Something as simple as working in your garden can give you meaning and purpose. One suggestion is to take some time every morning when you first wake up to go over in your mind what you will be doing that day that you find satisfying and rewarding.
  • Gratitude: People who feel appreciative throughout the day are very happy people. You might think that you first have to be happy in order to experience appreciation all day. Positive psychology researchers have demonstrated that unhappy people become happier just by developing a formal gratitude practice. One evidence-based suggestion is to start a formal gratitude journal.
  • Recognition of choice: People who believe all their actions are by conscious choice are much happier than those who believe their actions are all performed because they have no choice. By developing the ability to objectively observe your thought processes and the unhealthy language you use, you develop the ability to soon recognize that everything you do out of conscious choice. One suggestion is to notice all the times you find yourself using language like have to, and change it to choose to.
  • Mindfulness Practice: Most of us spend much of our time thinking about things that already happened or that may or may not happen in the future. Mindfulness practice allows us to objectively observe those thought patterns and to then choose to live fully in the present moment.
  • Authentic self-expression: For most of us, this requires risk-taking and courage. Research has shown that just the ability to say no,can make an actual difference in both wellbeing and health.

By Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

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