Happiness is a state of being. While many consider it fleeting, there are just as many others (including me) who believe this state can be sustained for lengthy periods of time. Even if you find yourself struggling with finding joy on a cloudy day, there are effective ways to uplift your mood and readily rebound from setbacks.
While happiness is a desired state, it’s up to us, not others, to create and sustain it. When you continue to build up your habits of happiness, you’ll see your joy grow. It’s all about attitude, approach and action.
Attitude. There’s much discussion around the pursuit of happiness. Many people believe that externals drive internal happiness. While these externals certainly do affect our emotional well-being, we can reverse their impact. According to Psychologist Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D., in his article on the Four Attitudes of Happiness, “Happiness comes more easily to those who have adopted a certain way of looking at things. In this view, attitude precedes—and determines—the quality of our emotional state.” *
I couldn’t agree more. Happiness increases when we take measures to increase our happy moments and not the other way around, waiting for happy moments to come our way.
Grand Rapids, Michigan based Psychologist, Amy Jarchow, Ph.D., shared with me her own personal definition of happiness. “Happiness is finding meaning in and experiencing life to the fullest. That might mean different things depending on the day,” she says. She also explained that while having an optimistic outlook and building from an internal state to position our attitude toward happiness helps, it also requires a thoughtful approach.
Approach. Being mindful of what makes you happy helps you understand where you need to focus your energy and time. Not too long ago, I felt stuck in a pattern with my business that was dampening my spirit. While I knew that it was up to me to set intentions for positive change to boost my emotions, I needed to develop a new approach. I looked at the encounters and endeavors that brought a smile to my face and reworked my schedule and approach to allow me to spend more of my time in these spaces. Yes, that comes with risk and the possibility of saying “No” and defining what personal balance means to me.
“Overall, I find it important to strive for balance between work, self-care and relationships,” said Dr. Jarchow. “Having a sense of accomplishment at work, nurturing relationships with family and friends, and allowing enough ‘me time’ are all key factors.”
Action.Once you understand what approach you’d like to experiment with, it’s time to take action. Dr. Jarchow recommends adding elements of mindfulness to your action plan. “Taking some time to breathe, giving your mind a rest or getting a change in scenery can be helpful tools to use during the day to keep you focused on being in the moment,” she said. “Sometimes just allowing yourself ten seconds to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and repeat soothing words (e.g., calm, peace, relax) can be enough of a break to stop, find balance and be able to focus more effectively on the task at hand.”
Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele.
*Psychology Today – June 7, 2011.