A different approach to happiness

A different approach to happiness

For quite some time now I”ve taken what’s called an ideographic approach to understanding people and, in my career as a therapist and coach, to helping them. In simple terms, this approach is based on the premise that we”re all different and contrasts with other approaches in psychology and psychiatry in which it’s assumed that we all fit into certain groups with commonalities.

Obviously, both approaches have some validity (you can always find differences just as you can always find similarities) but when it comes to the creation of happiness and a good life, I”m much more in the former camp. And I”m pleased to note that I”m not alone here but rather, in some good company. Aristotle, for one, noted that “different men seek after happiness in different ways and by different means and so make for themselves different modes of lifeê¢__‘Ô_”

Why am I writing about this? Because I think that too often we try to follow others but then expect a different outcome; too often we expect if we do what others do we”ll achieve the same outcome. It is, quite clearly, not that simple and so this week’s column is about finding your own way and finding a way to happiness that works for youê¢__‘Ô_a way that might be quite different!

To help with this I thought I”d introduce you to some of the interesting work coming out of the innovation domain, an area in which different and individual approaches have received more respect than in some other contexts. And this in itself is an approach I”d encourage you to consider; what can you learn from one part of your life that might help you in other areas of your life? What, for example, do you do at work that might be useful at home (and vice versa)?

As much as I believe that there are general principles from which we can all benefit when it comes to enhancing our happiness (including, of course, the CHOOSE model we”ve used with such effect in The Happiness Institute), I”m also quite sure that there’s not one perfect approach that we can prescribe for everyone – so the following tips are provided to help you work through the mine field of possibilities and ideally, generate a recipe that will help you live a life filled with more positivity and success.

– Open a book (maybe an encyclopaedia or dictionary) at a random page and reflect upon a word or phrase

– Contemplate your typical approach to happiness and then imagine the complete opposite

– Gather together a group of friends or colleagues and without inhibition or restriction discuss happiness and life

– Imagine your life as a court-jester or a clown and meditate upon how you might approach life differently

During or after all of these little exercises ask yourself – what can I actually do right now that might impact positively on my happiness?