Happiness and Habits


Now, if you’re like me and the topic of “happiness” is discussed, I used to shake my head and think this is a woo, woo… , soft science. However, my curiosity go the best of me and I started to wonder about why certain people have incredible hard ship and are able to be resilient and positive, while others, with perhaps, seemingly smaller stresses seem to be negative. And I thought to myself… what is that about?

* Why are some people more like Tigger vs. Eeyore?

* Why do people see the glass half empty or half full?

In the early 1990s, Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania, founded the Positive Psychology movement and he had a seemingly simple premise doctor. Instead of trying to fix what’s wrong with people, let’s focus on what’s right with people.

In essence, happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next, achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort and contrary to what most of us believe happiness does not simply happen to us. It’s something we must cultivate. It’s something we must make happen.

Dr. Tal Ben Shahar from Harvard University, a happiness expert taught the most popular class at Harvard and he created an acronym with 5 focus areas that can help us to attain happiness. The acronym is SPIRE the ability to reach the highest point a person is capable of and the deepest connection to self and those around us. Here’s what SPIRE stands for:

Spiritual Well-being: Leading a meaningful and moral life and living mindfully, while contributing to the greater good.

Physical Well-being: Cultivating a healthy body through exercise, nutrition, and adequate rest and recovery.

Intellectual Well-being: Acquiring knowledge, engaging in rigorous scholarship, cultivating creativity, and fostering the love of learning.

Relational Well-being: Contributing to, and in turn, benefiting from other people by focusing on the role that the person plays in his or her social environment.

Emotional Well-being: Increasing one’s ability to experience pleasurable emotions while acquiring the resilience necessary to effectively deal with painful emotions.

So based on these 5 focus areas there are 3 immediate habits you can do to improve your well -being and happiness:

1. Practice gratitude:

When going to bed at night say or write down three things that you are grateful for.

2. Be kind---

Doing things for others doesn’t just help them it helps us as well. Open a door for a stranger or give the gasoline attendant a few dollars or write a note to a friend you haven’t been in touch with for awhile.

3. Be present and cultivate awareness –

not ruminating over the past or worrying about the future allows us to focus on the here and now and become more actively engaged, interested an curious with each moment.

So in the end to be happy is not to say that we won’t live our lives without challenges or setbacks, but to the degree that we can frame how they affect our lives, well we can share our sunshine with all our loved ones and all those around us.