It’s easy to view happiness as an achievement or an end goal because it gives us something to work for and proves that the hardships will lead to a greater reward. After a while, the chase gets tiring, and pessimism seeps in. What if we tried to find happiness in our current moment?
In 1998, Pamela Gail Johnson started the Secret Society of Happy People with one question in mind: are you happier than you admit you are? The goal of the society was to simply show people that there is more happiness around them than they think and to encourage people to recognize the different forms of happiness and celebrate them.
Happiness is not something you can create, it is simply something that just happens.
Science has shown that we can only control 40% of our happiness; it is truly something contagious and is affected by what we experience in each moment.
When we are happy, our stress is reduced, our immune system is boosted, and we lower our risk of heart disease by 13-26%.
With all these health benefits of happiness, it seems like a no-brainer that we would want to be happier all the time, but that is something easier said than done.
Making happiness more recognizable and attainable has been at the forefront of recent research. Professor Arthur Brooks’s course on happiness at Harvard uses 84 years of data to focus on actions we can implement in our lives to improve our chance at happiness, such as quitting drinking, eating a balanced diet, and attending therapy. On the other hand, Professor Laurie Santos takes a different, more behavioral approach.
When Santos, a psychology professor at Yale University, noticed the increased anxiety and depression amongst her students, she developed The Happiness Lab. According to Santos, we all want to be happier, but “The problem is that we have a lot of misconceptions about what really will make us happy. We think we need to change our circumstances in major ways, but often simple behavioral and mindset changes can make a big difference in our sense of well-being.” The researchers and professors at the University of California at Berkeley follow similar ideas, focusing on the science of connection, compassion, gratitude, mindfulness, and more.
Here are 5 tips compiled from the researchers above to help you cultivate and recognize happiness:
- Take time for social connection. Finding a balance between your personal and professional lives is crucial to maintaining relationships and being around those you care about.
- Remember that unhappiness happens to the happiest of people. Progress isn’t linear, and without recognizing the downfalls, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the successes.
- Learn the power of gratitude. Happiness is not about what you can attain, it is also about being thankful for what you already have.
- Learn how to deal with your worries and problems. And when it becomes hard to manage our feelings on our own, we can’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Keep in mind that “Happiness equals love—full stop.” We must heal and nourish the relationships we have in our lives to be able to recognize the love and happiness we already hold.
There is no one path to happiness, and happiness happens in many ways; there are the grand gestures, the little moments, and the achievements throughout your life journey. So, as you go about your day, ask yourself, where does your happiness happen?