Discover the Secret to Being Happier
You can learn to be happy
Being happy is a topic that concerns us because our life expectancy has increased and we have more time. For this reason, it’s important to learn the secret to happiness.
Many studies have been done on this topic, and it is currently known that fifty percent of happiness depends on factors like beliefs and habits, which therefore means that happiness can be taught.
Since the year 2006, Harvard University has been teaching a course on happiness, and it has become a favorite among students.
“Happiness is sometimes a blessing, but in general it’s a conquest.”
The classes are conducted by Tal Ben-Shahar, an Israeli who’s an expert in positive psychology, and they’re based on a series of polls and field studies about the characteristics that let people live happily.
The secret to happiness
United States psychologist and writer Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, maintains that in order to achieve happiness, one must work on these three dimensions:
- A gratifying life. In other words, covering our basic needs.
- A good life. Discovering our potential and developing it so we can feel fulfilled.
- A life with meaning. Dedicating our potential towards contributing to the happiness of others.
Seligman conducted a detailed study on happiness and what makes people happy, and he arrived at 5 key points:
1. Positive emotions
This is reflected in the amount of positive words that we say and the positive emotions that we feel throughout the day. The higher the amount of positive emotions, the higher one’s level of wellbeing will be.
Our level of happiness depends on our interpretation of external events, and not the events themselves. You can’t control what happens to you (the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, a breakup), but you can control what you feel and how you confront those situations.
Having control over your emotions is a key part of happiness.
“Ninety nine percent of everything that people worry about are things that have never happened and will never happen.”
When we’re doing a job or a task that we really feel committed to, we have no concept of time and we enjoy it. Therefore, the more committed we feel to what we do, the happier we’ll be.
3. Positive relationships
Humans are social beings, and as such, we’re constantly cultivating new relationships. Having healthy and constructive relationships is good for our well-being.
4. Helping others
Belonging to something bigger than yourself is a big step towards developing your happiness. Seligman maintains that helping others creates more happiness than buying things.
Having goals and achieving them, feeling like we have a path to follow, feeling like we’re depending on ourselves and relying on our strengths and beliefs, is an indisputable part of happiness.
13 pieces of advice to help you be happier
The classes given by Tal Ben-Shahar at Harvard University offer 13 pieces of advice on how to be happier. Here they are:
- Exercise. During exercise, the brain produces a type of hormones called endorphins that provide a sensation of calm and contentment. You don’t have to do intense exercise; it’s enough to just walk quickly for 20 or 30 minutes each day.
- Eat breakfast. Many people don’t eat breakfast because they don’t have time or because they don’t want to get fat, but eating breakfast will help you to have more energy to think and plan your activities more successfully.
- Say thank you. Thanking someone creates empathy between people. Giving thanks shows that you acknowledge things that people take for granted. Think about 10 things that make you happy in your life that you are thankful for and make a list of them.
- Be assertive. Ask for what you want and say what you think, with manners and respect. Putting our thoughts and feelings out there helps us to be happier. Putting up with everything people say to us while keeping quiet ourselves will make us bitter.
- Spend your money on experiences, not things. Studies have shown that 75% of people feel happier when they invest their money in travel and courses than when they invest it in buying things.
- Eat well. We live fast lives in which we sometimes disregard our diet. It’s important to not skip any meals and be conscious of what you’re eating. Knowing how to nourish yourself properly, what to eat, and how different foods will affect your body, are fundamental things to know if you want to feel better.
- Face your challenges. Establish a weekly plan for how you are going to achieve your goals so you can keep tabs on what you have to do and avoid anxiety.
- Listen to music. Music awakens our desire to sing and dance and makes us feel good.
- Accept your failures. Failure is a part of life; it’s necessary to learn from it and move on.
- Surround yourself with good memories. Put up quotes, souvenirs, and nice photos of your loved ones all over the house: on the fridge, on your desk, etc. Surround yourself with things that bring beautiful moments to mind.
- Take care of your appearance. Forty one percent of people say that they feel happier when they look good. Look in the mirror and try on whatever you like.
- Be friendly and smile. Always greet people and be friendly to others. A simple smile can change someone’s mood and most people will value and treat you better.
- Have good posture. Walking upright, with your shoulders back and your gaze forward, helps to maintain a good mood.
“I once suspected that the only thing without mystery is happiness, because it is justified by itself.”
-Jorge Luis Borges-