4 Tips To Achieve Happiness
4 Tips To Achieve Happiness
When it comes to being happy, it seems that everyone you ask will have a different answer on how to achieve it (that Google search has over 6 billion results!). These often come in the form of well-meaning, but ultimately empty platitudes – or even worse, advice that is impersonal and impossible to relate to. So what is the best way to feel happy, especially if you’re depressed or trying to overcome deep-rooted negative feelings?
Learning to Focus on the Positives
In psychology, it’s well-known and proven that people who are depressed are much more likely to focus on negative traits and emotional framing, while more optimistic people focus on positive ones. While situations are rarely black and white in their entirety, how we choose to interpret our surroundings has a big impact on our daily emotional health – a phenomenon studied extensively by former APA president Martin Seligman.
While we don’t necessarily have to “trick” ourselves into thinking more positively, we do have to “train” our minds to recognize when we’re falling into negative patterns. Here are a few small changes you can make that are easy to remember, even in difficult times.
The Gift of Gratitude
One of the most powerful actions you can take is to approach situations with a grateful mindset. For example, one of our recommended techniques for clients is to ask that they take five minutes before bed, every night, and write down three things that they are grateful for – pets, fresh-baked bread, a stable job, a sunny day, anything! Research shows that this tends to not only remind people about the good parts of their day, but primes them to be more receptive to positive aspects of the next day, too. (To put it in the lens of CBT therapy, increasing gratitude acts as an intentional choice for a positive mental filter, and gathers data points that are more well-rounded, instead of just negative.)
It’s important to note that gratitude does not mean delusion – you don’t have to convince yourself to love a job you hate, for example. But reframing your thoughts as “I’m glad I have a job right now that pays my bills and gives me routine,” instead of “I can’t stand one more day at this place,” can help you get through the temporary setbacks and look forward to something better in the future.
Know That It's Temporary
That’s a perfect segue to another method: recognizing the temporary nature of emotion. Being sad sometimes is not a representation of depression, after all. Emotion is just energy (like in the equation, it is e) and it moves back and forth all the time. Remember that negativity will pass, and you can regain more control over positive perspectives.
Evidence shows that smiling and exercise are great interim solutions to negative thoughts – since even fake smiling can activate the same neurons as a genuine one, and exercise releases endorphins as well as making you healthier and happier overall. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just take a few moments, and think of the last funny cat video you saw or go for a walk. The emotions will pass, and you’ll (literally) be glad you did.
Calm Minds and Meditation
Meditation has been used for mental health benefits for thousands of years, by people all over the world – and in a society as busy as ours, it can massively help you decompress. Use traditional methods, or an app like Headspace, and you can soon be more in touch with your emotions, their temporary nature, and the things in your life that bring you joy and gratitude. We’ve never heard of someone regretting some time spent alone in self-reflection – so we’re confident in saying you won’t, either.
If you’ve tried all of these and you’re still feeling down – don’t worry! There are still plenty of solutions you can try, with the help of a psychologist or therapist. Simply let us know what’s going on and we’ll be there for you!