We All Want a Happy Life
We All Want a Happy Life
We all want a happy life, and we all know that having a positive attitude feels better than a negative one. But for some reason, we are all attracted to and can be easily drawn to the negative side. How do we go about to establish a more positive attitude as a daily habit? 5 Steps to a Happy Life with Positive Attitude
Step 1: Believe Happiness is a Choice
For me, this was a hard one at first. I thought that people were either unhappy or happy (and I was one of the unhappy ones). I used to blame this on all kinds of outside forces –- fate, experiences, parents, relationships –- but never really stopped to think that I could choose to be happy.
Sure, this isn’t always easy, but it is always, always an option. Teaching myself to see that happiness is a choice has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself.
Now when I find myself in a bad situation, I know that it’s up to me to find the good, to be happy regardless of what’s happening around me. I am no longer pointing fingers, placing blame. I realize that everything happens how it happens and it’s up to me to choose how I want to feel about it. I am in control of my happiness level and no one can take that away from me.
Step 2: Rid Your Life of Negativity
If you want to live a positive, joyful and happy life, you cannot –- absolutely CANNOT -– be surrounded by negative people who are not encouraging your happiness. When I was a pretty negative person, I tended to attract other negative people.
When I decided to make the change to live a more positive life, I had to rid my life of all of the negative people in it. This, as you can imagine, wasn’t easy. Getting rid of people hurts -– even when you know they aren’t good for you or your current lifestyle.
Not only did I have to get rid of the negative people, but I also had to get rid of the negative things too. I had to stop doing certain things that were causing negativity in my life. I had to take a step back and examine which behaviors were good for me and which were not.
I learned to focus on the positive things I was doing and let go of the negative ones. This process was not easy and to be honest, is still ongoing, but I know this: having negativity in your life prevents you from living a truly positive existence.
Step 3: Look For the Positive in Life
There is the positive aspect in everything. In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time it’s not all that obvious. We have to look. And sometimes we have to look hard.
The old me just sat back and allowed things to happen by default. If I saw negative, I went with that feeling. I didn’t want to look harder or think too much about the good. I found it much, much easier to sit back and just accept what I saw (which was usually the bad).
Now, when I’m faced with a difficult or challenging situation, I think to myself, “What is good about this?” No matter how terrible the situation might seem, I always can find something good if I take the time to think about it
Step 4: Reinforce Positivity in Yourself
Once I started thinking more positively and adapted to a more positive attitude, I realized I had to reinforce these thoughts and behaviors in myself so they would stick. As with any sort of training, practice makes perfect, and, yes, you can practice being positive.
The best and easiest way to do this is to be positive when it comes to who you are. Tell yourself you’re awesome. Tell yourself you look good. Tell yourself that you love and accept yourself completely. Tell yourself you did an awesome job at work or raising your kids or whatever it is you do.
Be honest with yourself, but do your best to look for the good. And, whatever you do, don’t focus on the negative. Nothing good can come of telling yourself that your butt’s too big or your latest career goal wasn’t met.
It’s okay to not like everything about yourself (yet), but don’t spend energy dwelling on the negative. Remind yourself of the good in you. We all have positive attributes and it’s up to you to remind yourself of them every day.
Step 5: Share Happiness with Others
Not only do you need to be positive with yourself for this new positive attitude to really take effect, you also need to be positive with others. You have to share your wealth of positivity with the world.
The best way I’ve found to do this is quite simple and basic: be nice. Be nice to other people, no matter what. Tell someone he or she looks nice today. Tell someone they did a great job on that presentation. Tell your parents or children (or both!) how much you love them and how great they are.
When someone is feeling down, do what you can to cheer him or her up. Send flowers. Write notes. Don’t gossip. Be kind to all living things. All of these things sound basic enough, but, for someone like me, they didn’t used to come easily.
In the past, I didn’t wanted to see the good in myself and, therefore, didn’t want to see it in others either. I used to be critical and condescending. Now I strive to be encouraging and supportive. I try not only to treat others, as I would like to be treated, but also to consider how they would like to be treated.
People appreciate positivity and the more you are sharing it with others, the more you are practicing it and reinforcing it in your own life.
Parting Words on the Positive Attitude Habit
When you start feeling like the idea of being a positive person is daunting, tell yourself this: “If someone who really used to struggle with a negative attitude, turned her life around with these five steps, then I can too!”
If anyone had told me a few years ago that I would be writing an article about developing a positive attitude and living a happy life, I would have laughed right in their face. I would have said, “Why in the world would someone want me to write about positivity?”
But here I am, writing this post, believing in these words, and knowing that every single day I am getting closer and closer to living the happy life I’ve secretly dreamed of living. If I can do it, you can do it. Believe in yourself and remember the most important lesson of all… a positive outlook is a choice. Choose to be positive. Choose to be happy. Life is short.
The pursuit of happiness is a modern luxury; throughout most of history the goal has been survival. We need, therefore, to lessen the expectations of our lives and make the best of what we have. “Stop being perfectionist; instead aim for being good enough,” advises Julia Hobsbawm, author of The See-Saw: 100 Ideas for Work-Life Balance. “Don’t compare your family to other families. Compare it only to your values and what you think is best for it.” She suggests setting three manageable goals a day rather flailing after 30.
4. Get flexible
This is the obvious solution and one of the most effective. Flexible working gives you a degree of autonomy, and autonomy is a vital ingredient for self-fulfilment. Employees now have the right to request flexible working and employers have to have good reason to refuse, but there is the fear that if you are not a fleshly presence at your desk for eight hours a day you’ll be deemed not to be pulling your weight. However, the more employees who work flexibly the less of a stigma there will be, so blaze a trail for your comrades.
They may actually get more toil out of you. In the office people can cover idleness with an air of activity; if you work from home bosses judge you on what you achieve.
When researchers from America’s Brigham Young University looked at 24,000 IBM employees, they found that those with flexible working arrangements were able to put in 57 hours a week before their personal life started to suffer, against 38 hours for those in traditional posts, and when the AA based some of its call-centre staff at home their productivity rose by more than a third.
5. Learn to say no
Easier said than done, but you can decline positively. If you can’t take on another project because it would unbalance the three you are expertly juggling already, explain this. Phrased cannily it will proclaim how much you are already achieving. Yes-men are not necessarily respected and are often dumped upon. Hobsbawn suggests applying equal rigour to your private life in order to stretch time. “Let something go that you feel you ought to do but can do without, whether it’s cleaning or networking parties or visiting friends,” she says.
6. Living to work or working to live?
We’ve come to expect our jobs to be fulfilling, but in a 1992 book Your Money or Your Life, Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin argue that we’ve confused work with paid employment. They reckon that paid employment by itself can’t fulfil, but work – as in productive effort which can include domestic responsibilities – can and does. Work and employment may overlap partly or wholly – the key is to understand the distinction. The authors suggest we ask what work we find fulfilling then ponder if and how our paid employment can help us realise it. We might require a job that in itself fulfils us – or a less demanding one to fund an outside passion. Possibly turning our hobby into a career would dull its lustre. Even if we can’t change our job, knowing why we’re really doing it – and what not to demand from it – can help clarify our perceptions.
Get back to nature
Half an hour prodding soil will reduce office stress far more effectively (and cheaply) than a glass of chardonnay. Studies from the University of Bristol indicate that simply touching friendly bacteria in soil has a similar effect to taking antidepressants, while research by the mental health charity Mind found that 94% of people who engage in green activities such as gardening felt it had eased depression. Gardening (or angling, or rambling) reconnects us with seasons and cycles and, when our handiwork bursts into bloom, gives a heady sense of purpose.
“The garden teaches you that things die, but things come back and there is always this constant cycle,” says Nicola Carruthers, chief executive of Thrive, a charity that helps disabled people through gardening. If you don’t have access to a garden or allotment, even watching seeds sown into a planter can boost sagging spirits. Or make time to circuit the nearest green space after work. It will create a soothing mental boundary between work and home.
Be optimistic. In the 1970s, researchers followed people who’d won the lottery and found that a year after they’d hit the jackpot, they were no happier than the people who didn’t. They called it hedonic adaptation, which suggests that we each have a baseline level of happiness. No matter what happens, good or bad, the effect on our happiness is only temporary and we tend to rebound to our baseline level. Some people have a higher baseline happiness level than others, and that can be attributed in part to genetics, but it’s also largely influenced by how you think. So while the remainder of this article will help boost your happiness, only improving your attitude towards life will increase your happiness permanently. Here are some excellent starting points for doing that:
Follow your gut. In one study, two groups of people were asked to pick out a poster to take home. One group was asked to analyze their decision carefully, weighing the pros and cons, and the other group was told to listen to their gut. Two weeks later, the group that followed their gut was happier with their posters than the group that analyzed their decisions. Now, some of our decisions are more crucial than picking out posters, but by the time you’re poring over your choice, the options you’re weighing are probably very similar, and the difference will only temporarily affect your happiness. So next time you have a decision to make, and you’re down to two or three options, just pick the one that feels right, and go with it. Never regret the decisions you make though. Just live by the 3 C’s of life: choices chances, and changes. You need to make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.
Make enough money to meet your basic needs: food, shelter, and clothing. In the US, that magic number is $40,000 a year. Any money you make beyond that will not necessarily make you happier. Remember the lottery winners mentioned earlier? Oodles of money didn’t make them any happier. Once you make enough money to support your basic needs, your happiness is not significantly affected by how much money you make, but by your level of optimism
Stay close to friends and family: Or move to where other members are- so you can see them more. We live in a mobile society, where people follow jobs around the country and sometimes around the world. We do this because we think increases in salary will make us happier, but the fact is that our relationships with our friends and family have a far greater impact on our happiness than our jobs do. So next time you think about relocating, consider that you’d need a salary increase of over $100,000 USD to compensate for the loss of happiness you’d have from moving away from your friends and family. But if your relationships with your family and
friends are unhealthy or nonexistent, and you are bent on moving, choose a location where you’ll be making about the same amount of money as everyone else; according to research, people feel more financially secure (and happier) when they’re on similar financial footing as the people around them, regardless of what that footing is
Find happiness in the job you have now: Many people expect the right job or the right career to dramatically change their level of happiness, but happiness research makes it clear that your level of optimism and the quality of your relationships eclipse the satisfaction you gain from your job. If you have a positive outlook, you will make the best of any job, and if you have good relationships with people, you won’t depend on your job to give your life a greater sense of meaning. You’ll find it in your interactions with the people you care about. Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aspire towards a job that will make you happier; it means you should understand that the capacity of your job to make you happy is quite small in comparison to your outlook on life and your relationships with people.
Forgive: In a study of college students, it was found that an attitude of forgiveness contributed to better cardiovascular health. You could say that forgiveness literally heals your heart. While it is unknown how forgiveness directly affects your heart, the study suggests that it may lower the perception of stress.
Make friends who share your interests or faith: In a 2010 study by Harvard researchers published in the journal American Sociological Review, it was discovered that people who went to church regularly reported greater life satisfaction than those who didn’t. The critical factor was the quality of friendships made in church. People who went to church and didn’t have any close friends there were no happier than people who never went to church. When the researchers compared people who had the same number of close friends, the ones who had close friends from church were more satisfied with their lives. It’s thought that the forming of friendships based on mutual interests and beliefs (and meeting consistently based on that mutual bond) is what makes the difference, so if church itself is not your thing, consider finding something else you’re deeply passionate about and making friends who you can connect with regularly based on that.
Understand what it is that will make you happy. Everyone has unique requirements for attaining happiness and what makes one person happy may be very different from what makes someone else happy. Revel in your individuality and do not worry about whether or not your desires are comparable to those of your peers.
Make a plan for attaining goals that you believe will make you happy. Your mood will very likely increase as your pursue your goal because you will feel better about yourself for going after something you value.
Surround yourself with happy people. It is easy to begin to think negatively when you are surrounded by people who think that way. Conversely, if you are around people who are happy their emotional state will be infectious.
When something goes wrong try to figure out a solution instead of wallowing in self pity. Truly happy people don’t allow set backs to affect their mood because they know that with a little thought they can turn the circumstances back to their favor.
Spend a few minutes each day thinking about the things that make you happy. These few minutes will give you the opportunity to focus on the positive things in your life and will lead you to continued happiness.
It’s also important to take some time each day to do something nice for yourself. Whether you treat yourself to lunch, take a long, relaxing bath or simply spend a few extra minutes on your appearance you will be subconsciously putting yourself in a better mood.
Finding the humor in situations can also lead to happiness. While there are times that require you to be serious, when it is appropriate, find a way to make light of a situation that would otherwise make you unhappy.
Maintaining your health is another way to achieve happiness. Being overweight or not eating nutritious foods can have a negative effect on your mood. Additionally, exercise has been known to release endorphins that give you a feeling of happiness.
Finally, it is important to understand that you deserve happiness. Those who believe that they are not worthy of happiness may subconsciously sabotage their efforts to achieve happiness. If necessary, tell yourself each day that you deserve to be happy and remind yourself what steps you will take to achieve the happiness you desire.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 17 December 2016
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