Tag Archives: friends
A big part of leading a life of happiness is being able to stick to your guns when you need to, and not bending over backwards just to be a people pleaser.
Now, this does NOT mean refusing to help others, being unkind, or anything of the sort – there’s nothing wrong with pleasing others. The problems happen when your concern for pleasing others comes at the expense of your own principles, your own happiness, or gets in the way of other things you need to accomplish for your own life.
The unfortunate reality is that there will always be people who try to take advantage of others (and some people who will without even realizing it), and if you allow yourself to be manipulated – sometimes by your own internal desire for acceptance – you’ll eventually be doing so many things for others, you stop paying attention to your own needs.
It’s fulfilling to help others, but can be very stressful to allow others to demand support from you. It’s all about making choices that satisfy the greatest good – helping others should not become such a burden that it impacts your ability to live a happy life.
Similarly, a pattern of “people pleasing” may prevent you from speaking out in opposition to something you disagree with – and if you’re not standing up for what you believe in, it’s going to take a toll on your self-worth. Staying close-mouthed just to avoid rocking the boat will ultimately turn into regret.
It should go without saying that upsetting people on purpose is NOT the path to personal happiness – but being prepared to navigate a situation where you can’t please everyone (and not feeling guilty about it) will go a long way in helping you keep your head held high, even when you have to be the bearer of bad news.
The best approach is to strike a balance between what’s good for you and what’s good for the people around you. Total selfishness is not the answer, obviously, but neither is letting yourself become a doormat.
There’s that old saying about taking the same actions over and over, but expecting different results. While that expression is generally used as a “definition for insanity,” I think we can look at the same issue in terms of happiness – and find just as many problems.
Think about people who really struggle to find happiness. One of the defining characteristics in a life of stress, anxiety, and unhappiness is repeat behavior – and consistently unpleasant results.
People allow themselves to stay in toxic relationships or work jobs that wear them down day after day. They spend time with people who damage their self-esteem, make consistently poor choices when it comes to food and exercise, and take on responsibilities that cause undue stress without any sort of satisfaction.
All of those behaviors are just like the “definition of insanity” mentioned above – it’s maintaining a cycle of behavior, but somehow expecting the outcome to change for the better.
Of course people want to be happy, but when their decisions and actions consistently prevent some of the basic needs for happiness – what do they expect?
Does this sound familiar? We’ve all got bad habits that can act as roadblocks to our happiness, and it’s up to use to identify them, figure out ways to change them, and move well past the barriers we set up for ourselves.
Small changes can often bring us closer and closer to a life of happiness and fulfillment, but those changes have to stick! We can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again – otherwise we’ll never make any progress at all!
Instead of just going through the same motions day after day, we should all be looking for the decisions and actions that are responsible for our feelings of unhappiness. After all, basically everything we do is a choice – from the people we spend time with to what we do at any given moment throughout the day. We’re constantly making choices, so why keep making the decisions that ultimately lead to unhappiness?
We can break out of these cycles, and we absolutely should do everything in our power to get away from damaging decision making. Making consistently dissatisfying choices is a fast track to unhappiness – and the very definition of “insanity!”
So many of us think that happiness comes from accomplishments, monetary success, a star-studded career – all products of hard work and the climbing of various social ladders – and while these things can be fulfilling, they might be taking us away from other important components of happy life, namely our friends and families.
Studies show that personal relationships really do have some of the largest impact on overall happiness, as well longevity. Not spending enough time with loved ones was one of the most common regrets listed by people on their deathbeds, according to The Top Five Regrets of Dying by Bronnie Ware.
Compared to social status, wealth, and career achievements, having strong relationships with close friends and family has much, much larger impact on overall happiness. Harvard Psychology Professor Dan Gilbert says, “We are happy when he have family, we are happy when we have friends, and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.”
This is a pretty stark reminder that maybe all of the attention we give to career goals and other “paths to happiness” are less important than we think, and we should be taking the time out of our busy lives to stay connected to the people that matter most.
If you want to be happy, make others happy.
That seems counterintuitive and oversimplified, right? What does the happiness of others have anything to do with the amount of happiness you experience on a personal level?
Quite a bit, it turns out!
Putting effort into improving the lives others, in fact, is one of the most direct and measurably effective ways at increasing levels of happiness in ourselves, from giving gifts and spending money on friends, to volunteering for a charity or simply helping a stranger on the street.
Psychologist, author, and happiness expert Martin Seligman says, “…we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”
Our own experiences support this, if you think about it – doesn’t watching a loved one open a gift fill you with joy? Doesn’t the money spent on an event with people you care about yield more happiness than simply buying an object for yourself?
Simply doing good, engaging in altruistic behavior that somehow brightens the day of another person, makes you feel good about yourself. These boosts to your self esteem, your perceived sense of self-importance, your understanding of the impact you have on the world around you, even your sense of community with the people around you – all of these serve to make you happier.
People who volunteer (including kids and young adults) gain levels of self-esteem and happiness that remain present outside of the acts of kindness, and become a permanent state of improved well-being!
It’s almost as if you reward yourself for helping others with a more positive view of the world (and your place in it) – and this makes perfect sense! When you can make someone else’s life better, shouldn’t you feel great about it?
So there you have it, a sure fire way to boost your own happiness while making the world a better place. If you want to make your own life better, make someone else’s life better!
There are volunteer opportunities around every corner, and people all around you could use a kind word, help with a project, some friendly advice, even just the pleasure of your company.
Now roll up your sleeves and get out there to lend a helping hand!
What makes you happy? Have you ever thought about what exactly it is?
Recently, psychologists have scientifically proven that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness in your life is how much gratitude you show. The SoulPancake team decided that it would be a great idea to test this out.
They began by gauging the happiness of a group of volunteers before asking them to think of someone who was truly influential and important in their lives. The volunteers then wrote down as much as they could about why this person was so important. After this moment is when the true experiment took shape.
SoulPancake gave the volunteers a telephone and had them call up the person they had written about. Each person read his or her statement directly to whoever they had found most important; the reactions were extraordinary. Tears were shed, laughing erupted, and a few people got the chance to reconnect with friends and family they had been separated from by time and distance.
One volunteer, breaking down crying, read aloud, “Erica is my older sister and my best friend. Sometimes it even feels like we are twins. She is my number one fan and my number one supporter. She makes me happy because despite all my mistakes and all my decisions, she still loves me no matter what. I will never forget when she flew three thousand miles at the drop of a phone call to save me from a breakup.” The immense feeling behind this display of gratitude was palpable and the sisters’ connection shined through, even over the phone.
After the phone calls, one final aspect of the experiment remained: testing the volunteers’ happiness levels a second time. Rewording the test so they weren’t aware it was the same thing, host Julian notes that, even for the few individuals who could not reach the object of their gratitude, happiness levels increased between 2 and 4%. Simply thinking about and writing these notions down made a small difference.
However, the volunteers who got to express themselves personally found increases of happiness between 4 and 19%, a substantial difference.
The most notable finding was that the person who walked in with the lowest happiness levels had the biggest jump after the experiment. What you can take away from this is that, if you’re having a particularly down day, or a really tough time, trying this exercise in gratitude will more than likely have a great impact on you.
So, show your gratitude to someone important in your life, someone who deserves it. You’ll both feel better off. It’s scientifically proven!