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Gustav Restau - Independent Lifeplus Associate

Understanding happiness and how it helps our mental wellness

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Does defining it help us to achieve it?

Most of us would say we would like to be happy. We have a rough idea of what happiness is: that good feeling about ourselves, our work, our life and everyone around us. We certainly know when we feel unhappy. But it can be quite difficult to quantify what happiness actually is, and without working that out it becomes harder to achieve.

Perhaps one problem is that ‘happiness’ has been repackaged and presented to us on a daily basis as the ability to acquire what we don’t yet have. The grass is always greener on the other side. That is not the fault of advertisers or the producers of talent shows, but more a symptom of our desire to be different from who we are now.

There is a balance to be struck between ambitions, dreams and aspirations and recognising all the good things we already have. If your entire life is wrapped up in the attempt to achieve one goal, attainable or not, you may find you have lost any number of days forgetting to focus on the good things you possess now.

If you can derive happiness from what you have already, that will provide you with a much stronger platform to build on towards your future aims and goals.

Everybody’s happiness is individual. There is certainly no standardised rating system for whether you should feel happy or not. Happiness is not a permanent state of mind. It ebbs and flows, fluctuates according to the demands and problems of every day. What we can do is try to enjoy and embrace moments of happiness so that they roll on to help us through the more difficult moments.

Here are a few ideas and thoughts on how to boost our personal “happiness quotient:”

Spend time on the most meaningful relationships in your life.1 Don’t let the negative people you run into drag you down into their own misery. Seek out positive people who can act as a support team, cheering you on, helping you feel positive. The best way to attract those people is to be positive yourself. Share the positivity.

Accept change. We cannot change the fact that change exists and that change will happen. Rather than dreading or avoiding change, turn it around so that you view it as an exhilarating experience. Dwelling on the negative will never make you happy. Look towards the future, and retain fond thoughts about the past.

Embrace what you have right now. Jot down all the good things you are grateful about and enjoy on a daily basis. That will offset the usual disappointments and losses.

Release your worries. Imagine all those negative thoughts and fears being released in a hot air balloon never to darken your thoughts again. Feel the rush of good feeling that comes along with that.

And now the good news – optimists, some research suggests, can live up to 7 ½ years longer than pessimists.2 That has got to be the most persuasive argument ever for seeking happiness!

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