How Do You ‘Get Happy’ ?

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04 Nov How Do You ‘Get Happy’ ?

Maybe you think you’d be happiest if you looked great in your bathing suit and could sit on a pristine beach with someone you love holding a tall iced drink in your hand? Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until you have an ideal body and that idyllic beach.

For greater happiness now, try things that are easier to do on a typical day: take a walk outdoors or volunteer for a good cause. Even something as simple as putting your desk in order while the office is quiet can elevate your mood. There are various routes to happiness and a balance among them may bring the greatest satisfaction. Not all routes will appeal to everyone equally or at all times.

Routes to happiness

In an early phase of positive psychology research, the pioneering psychologist Martin Seligman along with Christopher Peterson of the University of Michigan, examined several routes to happiness and explored an individual’s inclination to pursue each one. They chose three pathways to start:

Feeling good: seeking pleasurable emotions and sensations, this includes seeking to repeat and savor pleasant experiences.

Engaging fully: pursuing goals and activities in which you are totally immersed.

Doing good: experiencing meaning by serving someone or something outside yourself.

A related area of newer research suggests that people are happiest when they’re focusing their minds on the present rather than thinking about other topics, places, or times. Harvard psychologists David Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth have reported that people spend about half of their time thinking about things other than what is going on around them. This “mind wandering” often takes the form of thinking about events that happened in the past, may happen in the future, or will never happen at all. And it doesn’t make us happy.

Curious to know which pathways to happiness come natural to you?

Try this quiz adapted from the University of Pennsylvania’s  “Authentic Happiness” website: “How do you seek happiness?”

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