The One Thing You May Not Know About Happiness, But Probably Should

by Jennifer Good | January 14th, 2013 12:38 PM | No Comments


Much of what we do in our life is determined by the perceived level of happiness we will obtain from the action. Do we watch our favorite TV show or pay our bills? Do we slave at a desk job or take the risk to be our own boss? Do we stay single or look for a partner? Happiness is something we tend to seek out for every dimension of our lives.

When you look at people around you, it can seem like some people just get it and are born happy, while others tend to struggle with it on a daily basis. The thing is – there is a key to achieve a constant state of happiness. The degree of happiness you feel is directly related to the amount of freedom you feel you have in a given moment.

An interesting study was conducted and published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology related to happiness. Researchers followed a group of individuals who worked at least 30 hours a week. They were asked to send in their mood at certain times through the day over a specific period of time. What was uncovered was nearly all of the subjects felt better in all areas starting at the day’s end on Friday all the way until Monday morning. This was true no matter what age they were, what life situation they were in or what income level. The reason for this increase in mood? The researchers noted that the subjects cited that they felt more autonomous on weekends and closer to the people around them.

People want to feel in control of their own lives. When the feeling of control slips away, so does the degree of happiness you feel. The way to improve anything is to first understand how something works in the first place. Knowing that happiness is directly tied to your feelings of freedom, it makes it a lot easier to lift your mood when you’re feeling down, depressed or just plain discouraged. With this in mind, here are a few tips that can help you improve your happiness overall.

Start Small
Every day choose one thing you want to do just for you. It could be something simple, anything from choosing what TV show to watch to reading a book. The point is to do something every single day. We tend to let our personal needs slide when life gets chaotic. Sooner or later it becomes a habit to put other people’s needs in front of our own. This little exercise helps you get back into the habit of taking care of the most important person in your life – yourself.

It’s A State of Mind
Sometime you’re forced to be in a situation you don’t want to be in. There’s really nothing you can do to avoid this. The solution is to not work on changing the unavoidable, but rather change your perspective of the situation. If you need to do a tedious errand, don’t focus on how much you don’t want to do it. Instead, find the “bright side” or use the opportunity to get something else done. For instance, if you know you’ll have to wait in line somewhere, bring your smartphone and read a book while you’re waiting. Learn to make the most of every situation and you’ll be taking back some of the control you feel you’re losing by being in “have-to” situations.

Know Your Happiness Zone
If you keep doing things you don’t like, you’re giving away your autonomy. Take some time to monitor your mood for a week or so to see when you are most happy. Then work backwards to find ways to do more of the things that put you in those good moods. A great way to do this is through the free app Track Your Happiness. You’ll be prompted at preselected times during the day to report on what you’re doing and how you feel at that moment. Later, the app will send you a report that shows how your happiness varied depending on the information you’ve sent it. That way you can find out exactly what makes you happy.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a little thought of the day…

“We don’t see things the way they are. We see them the way WE are.” –Talmud.

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