Are you striving for happiness when just being happier is good enough?
I don’t know anyone who is happy all the time. Well, maybe the Dalai Lama, but aside from him, happiness eludes even the most cheerful of us from time-to-time. So, I don’t think your initial aim should be to achieve utter happiness. I would recommend that you aim at a target that’s easier to hit.
I think when our goal is not happiness but being happier, it’s more achievable. Also, it gives us something on which we can focus and measure on a daily basis. Being happier is easier to quantify than happiness.
Being happier is a moment-by-moment decision. It’s easier to answer the question “what can I do to make myself happier right now” than it is to answer the question “how can I achieve happiness.”
Being Happier In The Moment
Here’s what I know about happiness from a personal perspective. I believe that you – not outside influences – control your level of happiness. I’m not ecstatic every single day, but I experience some happiness daily. I became happier when I stopped striving for the life goal of happiness, and just began enjoying a few moments during the day that would make me happier right then.
Now to practice being happier, you must first have the proper foundation. You’re probably thinking, “oh, boy, there you go Harry. A foundation sounds like hard work!”
Settle down there nitro. The foundation isn’t hard and it is based in scientific fact: it’s harder to be happier if you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t move enough, or you let yourself get hungry. In essence, being happier is found at the intersection of a sound mind and body.
Let’s take a look at the science behind these.
It turns out that lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to negative emotions. According to the British Psychological Society, people who stay awake throughout the day become progressively more sensitive to negative emotions. In contrast, those who take an afternoon nap are desensitized to negative emotions yet more responsive to positive ones. The new finding builds on past research by showing that not only does sleep deprivation cause emotional problems, a sleep boost can bring emotional advantages.
So, even if you don’t get enough sleep at night, a quick nap can turn your day around.
Although I do recommend that everyone practice yoga and exercise with kettlebells, I’m not saying you have to do either to get enough movement in your day to affect you level of happiness. What if I told you that there is a research-based program that takes just seven minutes to complete? It requires only your own body weight and items you have around the house. The exercises include jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, ab crunches, step-ups onto chair, squats, tricep dips on chair, planks, high knees running in place, lunges, push-ups with rotation, and side planks. According to an article in Lifehacker, the exercises should be performed in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each (with a 10 second rest between exercises), while, throughout, the intensity hovers at an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10, (director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute Mr. Chris Jordan says. Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant. The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done.
Not ready yet for an intense seven-minute interval workout? Just get outside and walk for 10 minutes. A study indicates that just being outside makes people happier.
Then, you’re probably not happy at the moment. Science tells us that we should eat every four hours or so. In our hectic, fast-paced world, we don’t always hit that mark, and if we do we are often eating the wrong things.
Sugary, starchy foods may comfort us momentarily, but the elevated mood quickly passes, leaving us feeling cranky and irritable. In acute cases, we produce too much of a hormone called ghrelin — known as the hunger hormone — that may be a key to post-traumatic stress disorder and other stress-related mental illnesses.
What can we do to inhibit the hunger hormone? An apple a day helps keep the ghrelin away, as does wheat bran, rice bran, and green tea.
OK, now get that healthier foundation in place, so you can begin to build a happier life.