Harvard, unarguably one of the best universities on this earth actually teaches a course on how to happy. The course, called PSY 1504 – Positive Psychology, focuses on the psychological aspects of a fulfilling and flourishing life. Topics include happiness, self-esteem, empathy, friendship, love, achievement, creativity, music, spirituality, and humor. Wow! Isn’t this what life is actually all about? So we now need a course to teach us to be happy.. why not if we have forgotten our innate nature is always to be happy.
This course is taught by Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar and here, listed below are 11 Happiness tips; a great read to start the week with.
1. Ask yourself questions to foster awareness about what actions and attitudes will make you happier. Complete the following sentence: “To bring five percent more happiness into my life . . .”
2. Happiness must combine both pleasure and meaning, providing both present and future gain. To further illustrate this point, Ben-Shahar uses a hamburger analogy. He explains how certain things, like an unhealthy but tasty hamburger, will bring immediate short-term pleasure but have the opposite effect on our long-term feelings. Too often people bounce back and forth between these two without finding out what things in their lives can bring both immediate and long-term happiness; that is, a meal that is both tasty and healthy.
3. Happiness is not an end state, but rather something you work towards your whole life. Thus, you can be happier each day. Even happiness is a journey, not a destination.
4. Build happiness boosters into your life. These are things which you enjoy doing, and can include things such as having lunch with your spouse, reading a good book, taking a warm bath, engaging in a hobby you enjoy, and so on.
5. Create rituals. Dr. Ben-Shahar has the following to say about rituals: “The most creative individuals — whether artists, businesspeople, or parents — have rituals that they follow. Paradoxically, the routine frees them up to be creative and spontaneous.” One important ritual is to keep a gratitude journal. Every evening since September 19 1999, religiously, Ben-Shahar has made a list in a notebook of five things for which he feels grateful.
6. Imagine yourself as 110 years old. What advice would you give your younger self? This added perspective will allow you to recognize and eliminate the trivial and negative things from your life.
7. Allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions, including fear, sadness, or anxiety. Ben-Shahar advises that an expectation of constant happiness is unreasonable and sets us up for disappointment. A happy person has highs and lows, but their overall state of being is positive.
8. Simplify. Identify what’s most important to you and focus on that; stop trying to do too much. People who take on too much experience time poverty, which inhibits their ability to derive happiness from any of the activities they participate in.
9. Remember the mind-body connection. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.
10. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on your state of mind. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on and by our interpretation of external events.
11. Consider happiness to be the ultimate currency. Always ask yourself what you’re trading it for.