June 13, 2016
The concept of happiness has become a well studied phenomenon in the last decade or so, as more and more authors are writing self-help books, while magazines are coming up with the ‘top tips to be happier’ and Ted Talks are littered with the concept. Everyone wants to be happier. But we all seem to be on the search for it in different way. So is there only one answer?
Researching and reading into what defines happiness for others proved an insightful way to find my own ‘happiness recipe’. Books like the Happiness Project show Gretchen Rubin’s own journey of what happiness meant to her, and is great gateway to opening your own mind for what happiness looks like to you.
Robert Waldinger conducted a 75 year study trying to find out what makes us happy – notably the longest study on happiness ever. His study neatly boils it down to three thing that are going to make us happy:
1. Social connections
2. Number of friends
3. Quality relationships.
I struggle with the notion of being able to conveniently quantify three key elements as to what will make everyone happy, but what a search journey nevertheless!
These two are not alone in their quest for happiness, which is often why the notion of happiness has become a bit of an overused buzzword in our society. HOWEVER, there is some merit to the search behind it all. The quest for happiness is really what makes us happier. Authors, bloggers, columnists, anyone who can write the ‘ABC’ are fundamentally on the search for their own happiness. Their findings are purely their own, and you can choose whether you align with those outcomes or not. The simple task of searching ourselves is what will ultimately lead to more enriched, full and happy lives so embrace the search!
This wouldn’t be a post about ‘happiness’ without some of my own key findings as to what my experimentation has led me to believe are my triggers for happiness. For me, they all relate in some way to ‘health’. But when I say ‘health’, I mean this in the broadest concept of the word. Health and Happiness go together like Ying and Yang for me; one can’t exist without the other. Fundamentally I have found three elements that matter to me the most and I try to incorporate daily to make me happier.
Energy and the nutrients we eat: when I eat bad foods I tend to feel bad as well. I feel sluggish, tired and lacking in energy and vitality. When I eat nourishing, clean and wholefoods my body responds in amazing ways. ‘You are what you eat’ really takes on a whole new meaning. While I don’t calorie count or follow any particular ‘diet’, I am mindful as to what I’m eating and listen to my body’s own bioindividuality as to what it needs. If I’m feeling energised, rejuvinated and satisfied after eating, I by default feel much happier.
Body and the way we move it: this one is a must for me. It’s like my subconscious can tell the days that I haven’t exercised. I’m really jittery but lazy and lacking energy (I know everything that you think is the opposite!). The endorphins I gain from exercising and the satisfaction of every session is unparalleled. Even the simplest thing like a walk can reset my mind and puts me on track to a healthier and happier place.
Mind and the techniques to use it: when I feel like my day is getting out of control – the heart starts to pound and 1000 thoughts all come flooding in for my never ending ‘to do list’ – meditation is my saviour. I routinely take out 10 to 20 minutes a day to repeat my mantra to allow my thoughts to become more streamline, prioritised and clear. If you can get back control of your mind, everything else seems to fall into place.
One final thought on happiness. It seems in today’s society that it’s very easy to get caught up in the joy of ‘one extra like’ on Instagram or ‘a friend request’ on Facebook. Research shows it is the quality of relationships that is much more important than the quantity. It helps me to feel more recharged and energised when I’ve spend decent quality time with those closest to me, rather than long or big catch up session with lots of friends.
In the end, while I do think ‘Happiness’ is becoming somewhat of a buzzword, there is some merit in it’s quest. In your own research, you make take on one, you may take on everyone’s, or you may take on no one’s findings. But if anything, I hope that just thinking about happiness helps you to start to do your own search for what is happiness to YOU.