What a catchy song, right? Whilst pop music isn’t really my thing, there is something about this song that just penetrates the soul and instantly uplifts.
About a fortnight ago, I jumped onto another “pop bandwagon”, the #100happydays phenomenon, where for 100 consecutive days, you snap a photo of something that makes you happy and share it with the social media world.
Why did I decide to join in? Well I’ve been passionate about the concept of happiness ever since I learned in my undergraduate psychology studies in the late 90s that I could train in positive psychology and work with enhancing mental wellness not just removing mental illness. This triggered my decision to complete a Masters degree in Sport Psychology, focusing on strategies for assisting clients to shift gears from wellness to excellence.
I have since completed studies and workshops in Positive Psych through pioneers of this field such as Martin Seligman, and in fact had just picked his 2002 “Authentic Happiness” book from my book shelf coinciding with my discovery of the #100happydays movement. Talk about synchronicity!
So what is happiness? For me, it’s anything that makes your heart sing! I feel fortunate to have been born with a happy disposition but I consciously CHOOSE happiness, moment by moment, too.
If that sounds too warm, fuzzy and ethereal, allow me to share Marty’s (yeah we’re totes close) equation for happiness with you, straight out of “Authentic Happiness”:
(enduring Happiness = Set range + life Circumstances + Volition)
Let me explain…
“S” is the stuff you inherit from your folks, or a reflection of “nature”, such as a genetic predisposition towards depression, or the personality trait of extraversion. These factors from the backdrop to the human being, the unique “you”, that evolves over time.
“C” is another way of thinking about “nurture”, or the stuff that happens to you, by you, and around you throughout your life, starting with the powerful attachments created to your caregivers. We know that some children are surrounded by more adversity such as an environment of drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, or early trauma. It’s obvious that these individuals will be forced to climb a steeper road towards happiness. “C” also includes the circumstances of our teenage, adult and older life such as money, relationships, health and education.
“V” is the key to enduring happiness, and involves all voluntary variables that create sustainable change and enduring happiness. To really reach “H”, we often encounter a dilemma of choice. Do we hedonistically seize pleasure at every given opportunity, or do we sometimes pass up these bursts of momentary pleasure in the pursuit of lasting happiness? For example, do I slam that 6th vodka-tini or hop in a cab heading home because I want to study tomorrow to enhance my career opportunities for the future?
“V” involves 3 core areas:
(1) our level of satisfaction about the past: is the remote control button in our mind stuck on rewind, lost in regret, or do we have gratitude and acceptance in our hearts?
(2) our level of optimism about the future: do we know in our core that we will overcome adversity and remain hopeful despite the bad that happens, or do we feel pessimistic about our future and just expect things to always go against our wishes?
(3) our happiness in the present: can we adopt a mindful perspective, paying attention on purpose, in a non-judgmental way, to the present moment; and can we seek and experience pleasure and positive emotions?
So how can you be happier?
First, just notice what thoughts, words, and images come to mind when you reflect on your past…you may like to journal these or express them in some artistic way…then repeat this exercise holding your future in your mind..lastly repeat with the present.
Next, think about what the smallest step might be to help you reach a point of acceptance about your past, and optimism about your future.
Finally, make a commitment towards being more mindful and less on automatic pilot when going about your daily activities. You may like to try a mindful meditation (I will post an audio file to my blog in the next few days) or sign up for the Mindful in May challenge which sets you up with the intention to complete a daily mindful meditation of 15 minutes duration for the month of May. The meditation audio files get emailed to you daily. Too easy!
If you would like some further suggestions, feel free to make contact with me, or leave a reply below 🙂