In the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers listed our Rights as “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? The word pursuing involves obtaining something that you don’t have yet.
I have good news for you: you have control over your happiness! According to Eric Barker (in this article from “Barking Up The Wrong Tree”) 40% of our happiness is within our control. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but it is a conscious choice. By doing the right things, you can create good habits and improve your levels of happiness with the 40% that is yours to use.
So what can you do? Here are 3 things I gleaned from Barker’s research:
You should talk about your feelings.
No man or woman is an island and what one thing do happy people have in common? Strong relationships.
Look around and discover who is in your support network. Who is rooting for you and who can you do activities with? Write names down. It’s good to remember the people you have around you and who are forming your inner circle.
Your social life needs nurturing for a happier life. As a therapist I’ve observed first-hand how much better my clients feel when they’ve had the opportunity to talk about their concerns. It’s interesting that scientific research is backing that up. According to a study from the University of California (“Putting Feelings Into Words Produces Therapeutic Effects in the Brain” from 2007), describing emotions like grief and disappointment can put the brakes on brain activity that generates those feelings. By using MRI scans researchers saw changes in the brain when participants described the scary or sad faces they saw.
Build healthy habits and say no to unhelpful ones.
Remember the terrible things that happened in the past, but now seem funny? Laugh and laugh hard. Your brain loves humor! The more you laugh at life, the better you will feel.
Start building your life around good habits, one at a time, with baby steps. If something helps you relax and increases your productivity, do more of that. Make a plan, have a goal and then reward yourself.
Practice less self-criticism and more self-assurance. Self-criticism can easily lead to a bad mood. Beating yourself up over things you cannot control won’t make you be or feel better. Liking yourself will.
Try to practice self-gratitude daily for the next week and come back to tell me how you feel.
Get involved more.
Don’t give your brain time to laze around and think of all the things you are not good enough at, but instead start doing more to obtain more results.
Now is the best time to take care of your hobbies and your passions. Your life goals and what you decide to do about them have a big impact on your life satisfaction and therefore on your happiness. You alone are in charge of it.
Those who place high priority on family life are also happier, than those who place priority on their work or money alone. So ask the help of your family and do activities together.
Never give up on finding a treatment that works for you and your happiness. You matter and you are important. One type of treatment may work for one person, whereas a different treatment will help another person better. As a qualified psychologist and N.E.T practitioner, I’ve seen many clients respond well to alternative, holistic treatments. These include dietary supplements, mind-body therapies, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, movement therapies, specialized diets, and neuro-emotional technique.
There are ups and downs in the process of living. Sometimes our problems turn out to be gifts that provide us opportunities to grow as individuals. If you’d like to explore your options and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.