Everyone wants to be happy. It’s one of the only things in life that you can never have too much of. In fact, it is the desire for happiness that drives many of our clients to seek counseling services in the first place. Even shrouded by the disguise of other wants and needs—financial success, notoriety, romance—it is happiness, beneath it all, that motivates so many of us.
While science has proven that about 50% of our happiness is genetically predisposed, that still leaves us with control over the other 50%. And while “happiness” is a subjective phrase that means something different to everyone, scientists see happiness as a simple equation: how satisfied you are with your life + how good you feel on a daily basis
Happiness math ☝🏼
Of the happiness that we are able to control, 80% of it is driven by our thoughts, actions and behaviors while only 20% is determined by our circumstances. Since so much of our happiness is derived from our thoughts, actions and behaviors, then we have the ability to practice happiness—to develop happiness as something of a learned skill.
Here is some simple counseling advice to support you in changing your thoughts, actions and behaviors, to make you smile more often:
1. Nurture the healthy relationships in your life. Having robust support networks is the #1 cause of happiness! Spend as much time as possible with friends and family. Those who spend 6-7 hours with people they care about are 12x more likely to report feelings of happiness.
2. Indulge in new experiences, being mindful of even the briefest moments—dwell on the details! Tap into all of your senses: sight, sound, smell, etc. Science proves that, when we savor an experience, we are more happy, grateful and hopeful, and less stressed, guilty and depressed. Share an experience with a friend or loved one for even more of a happiness-boost. When you can’t go out and experience something new, spend a few minutes savoring a happy memory.
3. Embrace adversity and make sense of your life’s challenges. Those who have gone through tough times tend to be happier than those who haven’t, as they are more resilient, more able to cope with stress, and are generally more optimistic about the future.
4. Easier said than done, but find meaning—get connected to a deeper sense of purpose in life. Some of the best ways to find meaning are through a fulfilling career, spirituality or religion, parenthood and the pursuit of goals that require a commitment to something outside of ourselves: friends, family or community.
5. Be grateful. Gratitude is directly linked to happiness, better sleep quality and a healthier lifestyle.
6. Practice empathy and help others. Spend just five minutes brightening someone else’s day or send a simple email thanking someone for something they did for you. Volunteering is also a great way to help others.
7. Find your “flow state,” an activity that is both enjoyable and challenging. The goal is to get “into the zone” and be completely focused on the present moment. Surfing, hiking, running, rock climbing, making art, playing an instrument…
8. Meditate. Science shows that meditation increases the activity level in the part of the brain responsible for calm and happiness.
50% of our happiness is out of our control, but the other 50% is ours to own. By following the counseling advice outlined above, we can begin to “train” our brain to be happier—and isn’t that the goal? Happier people have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, have stronger immune systems and recover faster from illnesses and injuries. They are more likely to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. And, because of these benefits, happy people live longer lives.
You can never be too happy, and the benefits of happiness affect us as individuals, and the world around us as we spread joy to others.
Contact Creative Counseling Center
If you want to find happiness, but are struggling with depression to the point that it is preventing you from following the counseling advice for happiness outlined above, please contact us for a free phone consultation. We can discuss your needs, answer your questions, and determine if one of our counselors might be a good fit. Just complete the brief form below and a member of our therapeutic team will be in touch shortly.