How many times have you heard the saying, “All I want is to be happy” or one of it’s many variations such as “All I want is for my children, partner, mother, friend – fill in the blank – to be happy.”
We talk about it all the time in our overly stressed, overly competitive, overly plugged in world. Even big name musicians are talking about it (like Pharrell Williams and Mary J Blige) — so there MUST be some truth to it!
The irony is that we talk about wanting happiness but often feel helpless to create more of it in our lives. The secret is that everyone has access to happiness, no matter your circumstances — we can choose to cultivate more of it. If fact, studies show that only about 50% of our happiness is pre-determined – the rest is up to us.
Positive Psychology aims to shift the paradigm between a more traditional focus on what’s wrong in someone’s life to what’s right.
It makes perfect sense. If we are mentally well and want to live happier, more engaged lives, we can make that happen by focusing on what we are great at and passionate about rather than focusing on how to ‘fix’ the parts of ourselves that aren’t as shiny.
Just as thinking about exercising or going on a diet doesn’t help you to get healthier, thinking about being happier doesn’t necessarily work. Increasing your happiness and your experience in life is all about creating awareness and then taking action to make changes to help you experience more happiness. The good news is that there is tons of research telling us what will actually make us happier – we just have to make a commitment to making it happen.
Here are some examples of proven strategies to improve happiness:
1. Keep up with a gratitude practice
2. Volunteer for something you care about
3. Cultivate social connections with people you care about
4. Exercise (in a not torturing yourself kind of way)
5. Focus on having great experiences over having great stuff
Here’s my ask of you! Commit to one new practice this week in service of cultivating more happiness in your life.
BONUS: Use an app or a good ole fashioned notebook to track your progress in sticking with it and share your commitment below! This my current favorite!
Deborah Tyson is a Boston-based Transition Coach. Learn more at mobilizecoaching.com.