The Pursuit of Happiness: It’s Not What You Think

Pursuing Happiness the Right Way

It's a common misconception that material possessions or public success can bring happiness. But, what if we told you that fortune and fame have very little to do with how much joy you feel on a regular basis? In fact, the pursuit of happiness through material objects can backfire and potentially increase feelings of emptiness and depression.

So, what can you do to bring more happiness into your life? According to Positive Psychologist Researcher, Shawn Achor, happiness is not just a mood or something that happens to us. It's a work ethic. If you're doing your best to pursue happiness but keep coming up empty, here are four surprising things you do to increase contentment in your life, based on Achor's theories.

Make Positivity a Habit

Focusing on worldly possessions and success won't bring you happiness. But when you're a positive and happy person first, success may naturally follow, according to Achor. In order to infuse more positivity into your life, you should cut back on negativity by avoiding violent media and learning how to cope with stress. In the words of Stevie Wonder, 'Don't you worry 'bout a thing." Achor explains that your brain is hardwired to perform at its best only when you focus on positive thoughts.

Action Item: To make positivity a habit, begin each day thinking of at least five things you're thankful for. Every evening, write down at least three good things that happened that day. When you start and end each day focused on the positive instead of the negative, your entire outlook improves. Soon, positive thinking will become a habit that leads to a happier lifestyle.

Be Kind

When you consciously think of ways to improve others' lives, you automatically attract more happiness to your own life. There are many studies that show a strong link between altruism (giving consciously to strangers and friends alike) and enhanced mental health.

Action Item: It can be hard to find time for service when you're busy with the daily responsibilities of your own life, so start small. Choose just one day each week to commit five random acts of kindness. If you can't think of five specific things, don't worry. As long as you're constantly on the lookout for opportunities to be kind, you'll find them.

Take Responsibility For Your Own Happiness

No one else has the ability to make you happy. You hold the power to your own happiness in your hands. Achor suggests that in order to obtain happiness, you need to have a good work ethic. Be careful, though. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you will only be happy once you work hard enough to get a promotion or reach a certain income level.

The truth is, happiness isn't tied to a number or achievement. It's a state of being. When you make positivity a habit, you'll find joy in your daily efforts and will realize that happiness doesn't discriminate between millionaires and those earning minimum wage. It's available to all who have the work ethic to create it.

Action Item: Each time we use a skill we've developed, we experience a burst of positivity. If you find yourself in need of a happiness booster, revisit a talent you haven't used in a while.

Exercise

Did you know regular physical activity can boost your work performance and enhance your mood? Whether you choose to take a brisk morning jog or indulge in stress-reducing Yoga, you'll reap the benefits. Exercise reduces stress, encourages motivation and improves health and wellbeing.

Action Item: If you aren't in the habit of exercising regularly, start by taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, parking as far away as you can in the parking lot, or taking a brisk 15-minute walk in the morning. On the weekends go for a hike in an area you love. Slowly work up from there until exercise becomes a daily habit.

Follow these four tips to experience success in your pursuit of happiness. Learn more about Shawn Achor and his book: The Happiness Advantage. Have a tip or suggestion about how to live a happy life? Let us know in the comments section!

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