Overcome these fundamental obstacles to a happier, more positive outlook on life.
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How To Live A Happier Life
Happiness is our cornerstone and our yardstick for a well-lived life, not to mention the subject of numerous books, TED Talks, and applications. But what are we looking for exactly? Scientists working to find an answer to that issue characterise happy individuals as having a pleasant personality, close social associates, and the resources to build progress toward the things they value. Simply put, “it’s the joy we feel as we move toward our potential," Michelle Gielan, author of Broadcasting Happiness and founder of Dallas’ Institute for Applied Positive Research tells Health.
The great news is that we are usually satisfied as a nation, but there is still space for improvement. In the 2018 United Nations World Happiness Report, which asked individuals in more than 150 nations to assess their lives on a scale of 1 to 10 (based on indicators such as life expectancy, GDP, and social support), Americans received a not-too-bad 6.8. However, this is nearly a point lower than the top three—Finland, Norway, and Denmark—all rated theirs at or above 7.5. (PSA: Nobody, not even Norwegians, could indeed keep a ten going; it would be exhausting!) Experts say there are apparent impediments in our way to feel more fulfilled every day. Learn how to overcome them.
Our Formless Mind
The negative bias is a psychological phenomenon. It provided humanity with an advantage thousands of years ago: we were always ready to avoid life-and-death situations. It now seems that humans are predisposed to notice and remember bad events more than happy ones. One disparaging remark might deflate an otherwise perfect day.
Taking a moment to enjoy something sweet or lovely might help us overcome our negative biases. To start into the habit, Gielan advises photographing anything that makes you grin and laugh or makes you feel blessed and loved: your sleeping kid, an exquisite dinner, a pink sunset, or your funniest old buddy. Then, go through them all again by the end of each week. In doing so, it “trains your brain to watch for moments to capture," Gielan writes in Broadcasting Happiness. “It refocuses your attention on the positive, meaningful parts of the day and shifts it away from stress and negativity." Soon, you won’t even have to capture photographs to get that pleasurable feeling.
Attempting It Alone
Isolating oneself is a guaranteed way to get depressed. According to Martin Seligman, PhD, a professor and head of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Ed Diener, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and the University of Utah, the happiest individuals have rich, rewarding relationships. While it’s a chicken and egg thing question (do cheerful people automatically welcome more meaningful ties, or vice versa? ), having an extensive social network is a huge win.
Seeking out to others may help you overcome this obstacle. That doesn’t imply you have to fill your schedule to the brim. One simple beginning point is to initiate talks with a positive statement, which Gielan refers to as a “power lead". Greet a colleague with “I just listened to a great podcast" instead of “I’m so tired," or ask your children, “What was the best part of your day?" instead of the usual “How was your day?" The change is slight, yet it might result in an instant favourable relationship.
2021 Ways Of Living
It’s the ring. The pay increase. The last seven pounds. We can all get into the temptation of believing that we will be happy once X, Y, or Z occurs. “The problem is that this pushes happiness into the future," Gielan says. “When you focus on the present instead, you get your brain to concentrate on what is working in your life.“
Instead of continually planning, learn to live in the present now. The concept of centring oneself is central to mindfulness meditation, which has been proven to boost activity in the left frontal area of the brain, which is responsible for positive feelings such as optimism. Wake up with a “5-3-1-1" practice, Ralph De La Rosa, a therapist and meditation instructor and author of The Monkey Is the Messenger. tells Health. Take five deep breaths while remaining in bed. Consider three things for which you are thankful. Set one purpose for the day and smile one genuine grin. Such habits pay off handsomely. Being more present will not only offer you a brighter outlook, but it can also increase your energy production and job performance; it has even been proven to boost students’ exam results, according to Gielan. The second benefit, according to Gielan, is the world’s best-kept professional secret: When you focus on what’s good right now, you’re more likely to be successful.
The Social Media Vortex
“Compare and despair" is no laughing matter. It’s easy to glance up from a long scroll and conclude that everyone else’s life is a fiesta but yours. We don’t need specialists to tell us that this habit is destroying our self-esteem, but a 2014 research published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture verified it. A newer study has shown exactly how damaging it may be. According to a 2017 research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the more time 18- to 22-year-olds spend on social media, the further likely they are to develop anxiety symptoms.
Set aside time each day to disengage. Begin with modest steps; even 10 minutes matter. Work your way up toward being phone-free for the very first half-hour in the morning, throughout meals, and for the last hour before bed, since both your device’s lighting and its seductive pull impede quality sleep, which is essential for combating worry and stress.
Americans report feeling more burned out than ever before in terms of stress. For the first time in the 10-year history of its annual poll, the American Psychological Association discovered a statistically significant rise in stress levels in January 2017. According to a 2018 follow-up poll, we’re just as concerned about the future of our nation (63 per cent) as we are about evergreens such as money (62 per cent) and work (61 per cent).
Still haven’t put your phone down? Take a step back: It’s one of the main reasons we’re so giddy about headlines. Then consider concrete measures to relieve what’s bothering you, such as sharing a heart-to-heart moment with your mother or utilising an application to track your expenditures. Take a deep breath if you’re still reeling. According to research, when our exhalation is even a few counts lengthier than our inhalation, the vagus nerve, which goes from the brain down the neck to the diaphragm and belly, instructs our nervous system to relax. Our heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, blood vessels relax, and our entire body physically calms. Inhale gently via your nose, then release with a gentle haaaaaaaaaaaaa (For a more pleasant release, repeat this ten times with a three-second gap between breaths.)
We’ve all been trapped at times—in an unfulfilling career, a stressful relationship, or simply a “blah" state of mind. As it turns out, this implies that we might be aiming for the wrong things. According to a 2009 University of Rochester research, those who pursue individual pleasures (or extrinsic objectives) such as fame and riches are substantially less content than those who seek personal progress, connections, and community (intrinsic goals). Researchers polled graduating university students about their goals and followed them up two years later. Despite their successes, those who sought extrinsic objectives reported increased anxiety and lowered physical wellbeing. In contrast, those who pursued intrinsic goals reported better wellbeing and self-esteem and fewer biological stress indicators.
Remove this impediment by determining a goal. Make it a plural: purposes. Consider what motivates you in your personal, family, career, and community responsibilities.
“We have complex lives," Victor J. Strecher, PhD, author of Life on Purpose and a health-behaviour and health-education professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health tells Health. “We don’t care about just one thing." According to him, having a multifunctional mindset helps us prioritise and achieve balance. When we find ourselves stuck to our emails and disregarding our families, we may wonder, “Is this truly fulfilling my purpose here?" Then we can return to what matters—what makes us happy.