How to get Happy in Eight Easy Steps

 

After reading an article in Nursing Spectrum, on the evidence behind happiness, I wanted to share parts of it with you. This is part two in a series; the first one was published before this one. Here are the strategies to happiness. From an article by Cynthia Saver, RN, MS

 

1–Connect socially; spend time with family and friends

Connecting also provides you with the opportunity for kindness and compassion. Performing five random acts of kindness boosted happiness according to one study, and another showed that happiness and self-esteem improved six months after practicing compassion for five to fifteen minutes a day over one week. One psychologist recommended picking one day to do a large act of kindness or three to five small ones. She addressed the feeling of making the act of being kind becoming like a chore and recommended variety as useful interventions.

2–Keep a positive attitude.

In one research example people who spent twenty minutes writing a description of their “best possible future selves” were more positive and happier and had fewer physical problems.

The strategy of looking for the positive in life doesn’t work well for everyone. Pessimism can motivate people to get things done as well as optimism. The good news is that humans are resilient and for example disabled people often end up with levels of happiness comparable to those of regular non-disabled people.

3–Be Grateful. Another component of a positive attitude is gratitude. In studies where journals were kept of times a person was grateful, they showed people getting better if there was disease or depression.

4–Leave baggage behind.  Seligman, building on the work of Albert Ellis, developed the ABCDE approach to reducing negative thoughts that contribute to unhappiness.

A—Adversity: What is the problem? Describe it.

B—Beliefs: How do you feel about the situation? Do you feel silly, embarrassed, something else?

C—Consequences: What are you likely to do because of what happened?

D—Disputation: Are your beliefs true? Argue with yourself as to whether your beliefs are valid and dispute those that aren’t. On further consideration, you’ll likely find that your beliefs are not correct.

E—Energy: Do you notice how when you change negative thoughts and feelings, you have more energy?

5–Forgiveness

Being able to forgive is also beneficial to our happiness. Studies show that adults who participated in a six-week forgiveness training program reduced their negative thoughts and feelings about the transgression two or three times more effectively than those who weren’t part of the program. Forgiveness is the feeling of peace that comes when you take your hurt less personally. When you take responsibility for how you feel instead of being a victim.

6–Be kind to your mind.

Another way to be kind to your mind is to meditate. Researchers have found there is an antibody response in those that participated in an eight week training program. Also they found higher levels of prefrontal cortex activation, which is associated with positive affect.  Even if you don’t meditate, if you try to live in the moment by trying to enjoy the simple pleasures of life by focusing on what we take for granted, like sunshine after days of rain, you will be practicing mindfulness.

 7–Pursue Goals

8–Live a meaningful life.

Finally live a meaningful life. One way to do this is to focus on your strengths rather than on your weaknesses.

The path to happiness

Although everyone has a happiness “set point”, research based strategies can create an environment in which happiness can flourish. Following some of the practices outlined here can be a help.

One way to start is to track your time for a week or two, creating a table that lists your activities, the meaning and pleasure (on a scale of 1-5) you assign to the activity, how much time you spent on it and whether you want to spend more time or less.

An eight month-long study showed positive effects of expressing optimism and gratitude. The effects work best when the participants were committed. It takes a long time to make positive changes. And as many people point out: “happiness is in the journey not the destination.”

Happiness: 🙂 The Evidence Behind the Emotion 🙂

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About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
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8 Responses to How to get Happy in Eight Easy Steps

  1. nrhatch says:

    Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be ~ Abe Lincoln.
    I choose HAPPY! 😀

    Thanks for spreading the good news, Clar!

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  2. clarbojahn says:

    You’re welcome, Nancy. I enjoyed your recent posts about happiness. They were quite engaging. I tried to link up to them but had trouble finding them since not all of them had happy in the title.. I found blogs by the Dali Rama though. Your site is a gold mine and it would take me too long to dig into it as much as I would like. Has anyone else told you that you’re prolific?

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  3. nrhatch says:

    You can use the search bar on SLTW to search for “happy” or “happiness” and all posts with those words will appear at the press of a button.

    Or you can use the category “happiness” to find articles.

    And, yes, people have called me prolific . . . a term I much prefer to the somewhat harsher moniker of “verbose.” 😀

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    • clarbojahn says:

      LOL verbose? Yes that’s harsh.

      OK I didn’t think to use the search button. I went down the list on the side bar thinking they were your posts but learned they were a table of contents for other blogs. So sorry. Also for myself because your happiness posts would have made a nice contribution to this post.

      I’ll use the search bar next time. 🙂 Thanks for your comment and contribution.

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  4. These are all great points,Clar. It reminded me of Abe Lincoln’s quote about “being as happy as we make up our minds to be” as listed above. We are responssible for our own happiness. Thanks for the reminder

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  5. granny1947 says:

    This is excellent…thank you for sharing.

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