Don’t wait any longer…5 ways to get happier right now!

Don’t wait any longer…5 ways to get happier right now!

by Erika Andersen from

Here’s a really fascinating TED talk by Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness. His main point is that our happiness is primarily dependent on how we think about our life, vs. what’s happening in our lives. I’ve always thought this was true, and noticed it in my own life, but I didn’t really have the data to support it. The great thing about Dan’s talk, for me, is that he makes the scientific case.

It turns out that we’re able – as Dan says – to ‘synthesize’ happiness; we have a “psychological immune system” that’s set up to allow us to experience happiness almost without regard to our specific circumstances. One truly compelling piece of data he offers: lottery winners and paraplegics, one year after the event (either winning the lottery or losing the use of their legs) report nearly identical levels of happiness.

Gilbert doesn’t really go into one further implication of this, the one I find most interesting: the fact that some people take better advantage of this human ability to ‘synthesize happiness’ than others. And there are real and substantial benefits for doing that. A good deal of research has been done about optimism, showing that those who make effort to find hope and possibility in their circumstances (e.g., synthesize happiness), tend to be healthier, have better relationships, and live longer.

And Gilbert’s data supports this – people who report being happy even though they’re in difficult circumstances aren’t just ‘faking it’; they actually feel genuinely happy, and reap all the psychological and physiological benefits thereof. In other words, folks who find the potential to be happy in their lives aren’t just superficial Pollyannas…their will to happiness improves their experience of life.

This will toward happiness is very different from being in denial – that is, pretending that bad things aren’t happening, or refusing to feel anger, disappointment, anxiety, fear or other emotions in response to difficult circumstances. When we’re using our ‘happiness capacity’ to its fullest extent, we’re accurate fair witnesses about our circumstances; we feel what we feel…and then we look for ways to move through the difficulties, learn from our failures, and re-find our happiness.

Being able to do this in situations both personal and professional is a hugely beneficial skill. When we can access our own power to find happiness in our lives, we become less dependent on specific outcomes for happiness – and therefore less motivated by fear or greed to do things that won’t ultimately serve us or others. Just believing that you can shift your own level of happiness is more than half the battle. Most often, people who are chronically unhappy believe that their unhappiness arises from their circumstances, and that they, therefore, have no control over it. Here’s a simple approach to increasing your level of happiness and satisfaction, regardless of the particulars of your life:

Find 3 positives: Sometimes we get into a ‘momentum of unhappiness’ – where everything in our lives seems bad. You can often stop or reverse that momentum by acknowledging even a few things in your life that are good. A couple of months back, I was having a really bad day: I was tired and cranky, I’d just found out some tough news about a client, and it suddenly seemed overwhelming. I felt myself tipping into everything-is-bad mode. I stopped and asked myself, “What’s not bad?” The first three things that came to mind: my husband, my kids and grandkids, my health. Just remembering those enormous gifts in my life shifted my emotional state almost immediately…

…keep reading the full and original article, with all 5 happiness boosters – HERE