Tag Archives: Life
If we had to pinpoint the source of unhappiness, stress (in all its forms) would be a likely culprit. It comes from every possible angle, from work responsibility to romantic relationships, things beyond our control like weather and equipment malfunctions to anxieties and problems that are entirely self-generated. Stress is everywhere – it just comes in many, many forms.
Not only are there many types of stress, it also affects different people in different ways. Some people thrive on it, others buckle – and everything in between. It’s something we can relate to in others, but never quite fully understand because we all experience stress differently – and get stressed out by different things.
Stress doesn’t really go away with career success, money, family, healthy relationships, or any of the other stuff we seek out to build our happiness. It may change forms, but it will never truly go away.
Poverty is stressful, so is managing a massive and lucrative investment account. Loneliness can cause stress, so can navigating social circles or large families. Jobs of all kinds, mundane activities, huge existential questions, anxiety about the unknown, fear, physical injuries, illness – these are potentially stress inducing experiences that just about everyone has to face. There’s no getting around them.
So if there’s no escaping stress, what are we supposed to do?
The short answer: learn to deal with it.
Just as we all experience stress in different ways, and from sources unique to our own lives, we have to develop our own ways of coping with it. The most important thing to understand about this need to create your own path to stress relief is this: there are healthy ways and unhealthy ways to deal with stress, and you have to know the difference.
Turning to drugs, alcohol, binge eating, self-harm, lashing out at others, and other destructive behaviors are certainly the unhealthy route, and should be avoided – no matter how much better they may make you feel. Any relief gained in this way will be temporary, and likely lead to even more stresses in the future.
On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of healthy ways to relieve stress like yoga, meditation, exercise, music, a walk in nature, and a host of other nondestructive activities.
The point is to recognize that stress is just a part of life. You can develop your own ways of coping, and when the stressors start to pile up, you’ll have a way to handle it in a way that you know works for you.
I’d love to hear what you do to relieve stress. Leave me a comment below.
People like to get excited about things. There’s an element of giddy happiness in waiting for a special date to arrive, to see a special person, or to experience a moment built up in our minds to be extremely important and joyful. This is the kid on Christmas morning in a nutshell.
What does that tell us about what makes us happy? It’s certainly worth noting that we actually derive happiness from the anticipation of something we think will make us happy. How strange is that?
The act of waiting for something good to happen can actually boost our day-to-day happiness! So, if you want to use this to your advantage, try giving yourself something to look forward to!
You could plan a trip to somewhere special, and even if it means saving over the long-term, putting the details in place as you go, and setting a date far enough in advance to get all your preparations in order, you’ll have something great to anticipate the entire time!
If you’re feeling stressed or unhappy, you can simply look at that date on the calendar, and let the eager anticipation of your awesome vacation brighten your spirits!
In fact, this “tactic” works with more than just vacations or elaborate trips. It’s about giving yourself something to look forward to, no matter how small. If this sense of anticipation helps boost happiness, then why not always give yourself fun things wait for?
Maybe this means planning your social life well in advance, or making a point to pick a few exciting outings to plan every few months. Whatever it is that you find yourself looking forward to, time with family, adventures with friends, calm evenings alone, or anything else you get enjoyment from, try to plan it out a little bit!
Just having those events marked on your calendar will give you something to anticipate, and in turn feel happy about. Just like planning a vacation or special trip, having those happy events to look forward to can help you overcome feelings or stress and anxiety. It’s like having a light at the end of the tunnel!
So, what do you have to look forward to?
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.
I’ve put together twelve tips for putting the “HAPPY” back into Your “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” after the loss of a loved one. Check out my sixth tip: Take a walk! The hustle and bustle of the holidays can get to the best of us, and getting out into nature is a great way get fresh air and reconnect with yourself. It’s a perfect opportunity to welcome signs from your loved ones.
We all know someone for whom the glass is always half-full, who knows how to make lemonade whenever life hands them lemons. These eternal optimists are often the happiest people around. The folks at SoulPancake wondered: why? Do their attitudes stem from lucky circumstance, or is there a scientific correlation between looking on the bright side and a life rich with happiness?
In their ongoing Science of Happiness series, SoulPancake created a video showcasing an experiment in positive focus. They’ve put the well-worn phrase, “look on the bright side,” to the test: does a focus on positive attributes influence a person’s overall happiness in life? The answer may surprise some, especially on the “half-empty” side of the fence.
“Psychologists have found that a substantial amount of your happiness in life is determined by your ability to focus on the positive,” says host Julian, before introducing the participants.
The experiment involved gathering a group of volunteers who experienced a significant and difficult life event in the past year. They were then given a test gauging current levels of happiness. A control group was asked to think about something they feel completely neutral about, while the variable group was asked to think about a recent time in life where they experienced something positive. Whether it was something they achieved, something that happened to them, or something they did for somebody else, the goal was to put them in a positive state of mind.
These people were asked to choose their biggest strength and tell a story that showed off that quality. One man shared an experience comforting a friend after his father’s death. Another told of how he used the doubts of others as fuel for motivation. One woman focused on her talent for helping young people who don’t like school to turn around and enjoy learning and growing, something she takes enormous pride in.
Afterward, the subjects were measured again, to see what effects the positivity experiment had on their happiness. There was an immediate difference.
The control group showed increases as high as 43% and drops as low as 31%, while the variable group, the ones focusing on the positive, had a much narrower range, increasing up to 18% and most importantly, dropping as little as 6%.
“So, maybe instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you should focus on your strengths,” says Julian.
The remarkable takeaway here is that by simply maintaining perspective on the positive aspects of yourself, you can literally achieve a higher overall level of measurable happiness in life!
People often fall into the rut of thinking that only outside, concrete developments in life affect our happiness – a promotion at work, a new relationship – but this study proves that what’s more important than events existing outside ourselves is how we engage with the world. When we come at life with a positive perspective, it makes a world of a difference.