Want to Feel Better? Try the Happiness Formula

By: Dwight Bain

USA Today Newspaper asked readers “What do you want the most?” and the most common answer was to be happy.

While this sounds reasonable, it’s actually quite a puzzle because happiness is very individualized and hard to broadly define. What makes one person happy may not have much effect on another, or might even annoy them.

While the formula of what creates happiness is elusive, (think of Thomas Jefferson’s writing about the “Pursuit of Happiness”), the physical and psychological benefits of happiness are easy to track. Here’s a short list of the benefits of being happier.

·          Happy people are better liked

·          Happy people have more satisfying relationships with others

·          Happy people have 13% fewer fights and arguments

·          Happy students are 20% more likely to get “A” grades

·          Happy teens are 10 times less likely to start smoking

·          Happy people have an income that is roughly 7% higher

·          Happy people have 10% fewer stress related illnesses

·          Happiness reduces blood pressure by 12%


·         Overall, positive emotions can add up to 7 years to your life
 
Lack of happiness leads to a feeling of discontentment, discouragement and sometimes even despair over how they perceive their lives are not working out. It seems tied to a perception of what creates the feeling of having “Enough” to be happy. Enough money, enough food, enough entertainment, enough friends, enough shoes… and that list could go on and on.  Since there is no end to trying to achieve, accomplish or accumulate more, for some people there is no end to how moody and grumpy they feel, not even realizing their expectation of wanting more was creating their own feelings of unhappiness.
 
Yet having material possessions can’t explain how a general feeling of happiness floods some countries, while being absent in others. In 2013 the most grateful countries were India, South Africa, the Philippines and Nigeria with the United States coming in eleventh but not as far behind as the least happy countries of Denmark, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

Here is the key to finding and experiencing greater happiness, no matter if you are six, thirty-six or sixty-six. You have to think differently. Feeling happy is not based on externals, like having a good hair day or finding a parking spot near the front of the store rather it’s based on a mindset because happiness is an inside job. It’s based on attitude, not circumstances.

 “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

Here is a rapid formula to find more happiness, and it’s easy to remember because it spells out the popular phrase from a Bobby McFerrin song, who challenged listeners to “Don’t worry - Be Happy.”

– Belief.  Your belief about your circumstances greatly affects your feelings of happiness. If you are unhappy with not having a new pair of shoes, spend some time with a person who doesn’t have any feet. When you change your belief system, you change everything.

– Expectations . What you expect about your life will set you up for feelings of blessings or problems. If you are looking for the best, you will find it. If you are looking for something that isn’t working the way you want you will find that too. Consider the old phrase – “Two men looked through prison bars- one saw the mud, the other saw the stars.”




H –  Help others.  People who helped others were 20% happier than people who didn’t get involved in trying to make a positive difference. This can be done through your family, school, church or community and is the foundation of what happier people do. They add value to other people.

A –  Accept circumstances.  No amount of worry can pay your rent. Being mad and moody will not make your marriage better. Facing your life directly, and taking action to work on it is the key to finding greater happiness. Stuffing your feelings inside and being mad at the world only hurts you.

P –  Prayer.  Being a person of faith who believes that God has a greater plan for life is one of the keys to experiencing greater happiness, meaning and joy. Prayer is the process of giving up control of the things you can’t control to God, and then trusting in a power greater than yourself to manage the events and circumstances of life. The single greatest element to experience a life filled with happiness is to have a little faith.

– Perspective.  How you perceive a situation really does create your reality. If you believe people like you more when you smile and act friendly you will see that they do. When you have a positive mindset and outlook on life you will usually find more blessings than problems and that will create greater happiness.

– Yell “Yes”  to celebrate the blessings and good things in your life, every single day.

Happiness may be hard to define for some people but when you practice this simple formula you will be living out the wisdom of cartoonist Bill Keane who said, “God is Good and Life is a Gift. That’s why they call it the Present.”
About the Author –  Dwight Bain is a counselor and life coach focused on creating positive change based in Orlando. 
 

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