The great thing about happiness is that individuals have more power to change how much happiness they experience than external sources. Research in the developing field of positive psychology is helping us to better understand what makes people happy and what changes we can make, both as individuals and communities, to lead happier lives.
Most people report that they want to be happier, but few set aside daily time dedicated towards increasing their happiness in a specific or effective way. The organizers of “The International Day of Happiness,” want to change that. The theme for 2019 is “happier together,” encouraging people to look past the things that divide communities and find healthy ways to connect that will enrich lives and develop positive feelings.
What is happiness? It seems like a generic enough question, but answers differ wildly from one person to the next. Happiness is mostly defined by an overall feeling of satisfaction. Though nobody can be happy all the time, everyone can do things to help feel a bit better on a daily basis.
Action for Happiness has identified 10 keys to happier living, providing solid research and actionable steps individuals can take to implement these happiness boosters into daily life. Since this year’s theme is “happier together” we will focus on 3 of these keys that are best done together.
#1 Give – Brighten Your Day By Giving Happiness To Someone Else
Doing good things for others is one of the best ways to feel good yourself. Whether small, unplanned acts or regular volunteering, data has shown that acts of kindness for and towards others enhance personal feelings of well-being and overall health. When participants in a study did five new acts of kindness on one day per week over a six-week period (even if each act was small) they experienced an increase in well-being, compared to control groups.
To boost happiness get creative with the ways you give, which can include time, care, skills, financial support, thought or attention. What is one small thing you can do to brighten someone else’s day? That act will brighten your own.
#2 Connect – Real Social Connections Increase Health
Healthy relationships with family and friends support and increase feelings of self worth and happiness. Building connections with a broader community boosts happiness and feelings of safety and belonging. People with healthy social connections have higher levels of immunity against disease, lower risk of heart disease, and less risk of age related dementia. Social disconnection has similar risks to smoking and obesity for negative health outcomes.
If you want to improve the relationships in your life invest time and make an effort to do the things that research shows most improve the quality of relationships: experience something fun and together, talk openly and feel understood, giving or receive support, share activities and experiences. Relationships are vital to human well-being so time spent building and improving them will boost happiness for everyone involved.
#3 Find Purpose – Develop Intentional Relationships To Increase Happiness
Those who report having a meaning and purpose in their lives also report feeling happier, more in control, and express that they get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression.
For those not sure about their life purpose, consciously considering which activities, people, and beliefs bring you the strongest sense of purpose and passion can be a helpful way to find purpose. A greater sense of purpose can come from many places, such as a vocational calling, spiritual practice, connection with nature, relationships, or a shared community. Finding purpose is a deeply personal path, but spending time exploring it can lead to greater happiness and help to guide life’s bigger decisions.
Take action toward greater happiness
Research shows that cultivating happiness is not a selfish pursuit, but a way to improve the health and well-being of everyone in your life and surrounding community. If you’re ready to work toward more happiness in your life you can start by taking the happiness pledge:
I will try to create more happiness in the world around me.”
You can also find inspiration, research, action steps and support for creating a happier life at Action For Happiness.