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Sustainable Happiness - Is it Possible?

» Introduction
Happiness is such an overused word. But real, sustainable happiness is possible. In this lens, you will find the majority of information and tools that you can use and create results immediately to increase your 'happiness quotient' to a new level. This is exciting research. Finally, we have available to us the Applied Science of Happiness. And I am going to share it with you. Ready? Let's start.
» Step 1
Is Sustainable Happiness Possible?
The Latest and Greatest from the Happiness Research - exciting results
Forty per cent of the capacity for happiness is within your power to change (Lyubomirsky, 2008). To live a truly flourishing life, you need to experience a ratio of positive to negative affect at above a 2.9 for an individual to be classified as flourishing (Fredrickson & Losada, 2005). The factors that have the most impact on increasing and sustaining our happiness are social network of friends, colleagues, community; religion and marriage. The factors that do not increase our happiness are wealth beyond basic needs, education, high IQ, youth, gender and climate.

These are a few elements coming from the research. There are many more. We will look at these as they become relevant to our results-oriented approach.

So, what does all this research tell us. What can we do to be happier and to sustain that happiness? Let me put it succinctly with the following eight things you can do to start being happier today. This effective eight is a personal compilation of mine with research as the source and experience with myself and my clients as further evidence that it works.
» Step 2
1. Be optimistic. People who are optimistic are happier, enjoy higher physical health and live longer.

2. Find what generates flow in your life and make room in your life to experience this flow several times a week or even daily. Flow is that feeling you get when time stops or time flies, when you become totally engaged in what you are doing often through a craft or art such as woodworking or painting or putting an article together like this if you are more cerebral or writing poety or playing or composing music. Find what engages you and make it a regular part of your life.

3. Practice a state of gratitude. There is a huge body of research that shows that people who are grateful are people who are happier. They are more optimistic, healthier, more motivated and willing to expand their life. Other people like being around them because they are pleasant to be around. This is an important and sustainable change you can make in your life. How? Write down five or more things you are grateful for every day. If you don't like writing, recite them in your mind. Do this first thing in the morning to start your day and at the days end before you go to sleep. Since I have retrained myself to do this, I see the good things that I have more clearly and find myself recounting what I am grateful for throughout the day in the moment and I say it out loud when I am with other people and say it to myself when I am alone. I am less grumpy and more cheerful. I have a higher emotional resilience when things 'go wrong'.

4. Savour the pleasurable. Do you rush through eating your food? Do you prepare your food hastily? Is everything instant? Stop and smell the roses every day. Find ways to look out the window and see the sunshine. Feel the warmth of it on your neck. Go for a walk and see the colour and hear the sounds and smell the smells. Make a good meal. Eat it slowly. Focus on how good it tastes. Feel the warmth of the water in your shower or bath. Sometime the simple things of eating, sleeping, cleaning, bathing and breathing can be the best. Savour the pleasures of the senses as part of what you do.
» Step 3
5. Develop and apply your strengths and virtues. Do you know who you are? If I were to ask you, "What are your strengths?" Would you be able to tell me? If not, find out now. Go to, register (they won't send you any emails and your info is kept private), complete the VIA strengths survey and find out what your top 5 strengths are. Then start being aware of them and use them every day, including when you feel challenged. Be aware and grateful for your strengths. Admire them just as you would in another person. If you don't fill out the strengths questionnaire, just start reflecting on your strengths and jot them down. Then start bringing them into focus each day. Strengths-based coaching is one of the most successful ways to increase your confidence and feel good about who you are. Wouldn't that be nice?

6. Get involved in activities that are larger than yourself. What does that mean? It means to get involved in activities that benefit other people. It means using your top five strengths in the service of something larger than you are. What might that be for you?

7. Set and achieve realistic goals. All of us need to have goals and need to be able to achieve them. If you drift along in life, try this: this week make three small goals and focus on achieving them. make sure they are easy and within your power to achieve. Then, when you have accomplished them, see how that feels. How did that feel? If you did not accomplish your three goals, modify them if necessary, be compassionate with yourself and try again.

8. Continue to build relationships of all kinds: peers, mentors, family, communities, tribe, friends, colleagues, teachers, students, acquaintances. Apart from marriage, this is one of the most robust indicators of happiness - a strong social network filled with all kinds of people. Increase your social sphere. Go to new events, clubs, classes. Say yes to anything where there are people that you may have something in common with. Then look at how each of them contribute something to your life and contribute something to theirs.
» Step 4
In my next article, I would like to look at how your environment contributes to your happiness, another essential component.

Meanwhile, Dr. Martin Seligman's book "Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment" describes and summarized three main components in creating the happiness you deserve and were designed for. These three main components are 1. Creating the pleasant life, the good life, and the meaningful life.

Start with these things this week and see what happens.

copyright Johanna Vanderpol, Coach and Author

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Happiness is such an overused word. But real, sust...
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