Happiness. Perhaps some may wonder, “how does one pursue happiness or what does make one happy? At IQI, pursuing happiness is part of our vision.
Many associate wealth, status, fitness, and relationships as accomplishments towards the ultimate goal of happiness. And it is true to an extent but, research has shown that major positive changes in life circumstances do not essentially translate to significant increase in well-being.
Then, if life circumstances do not boost one’s happiness, then what does? A psychology professor at University of California-Riverside Sonja Lyumbomirsky spent her career studying happiness and she believes that happiness is a skill.
To answer the previous question on what boosts one’s happiness, research by Sonja and Kristin Layous suggest that “a portion of happiness may be under people’s control through activities they choose and how they construe and respond to situations in their lives” (Oxford University Press 2014).
Happiness – 3 steps to happiness
Based on this research, here are three cognitive behavioural strategies that Sonja and Kristin said have been found to improve happiness.
- Life is short
This may sound cheesy and cliché but based on Sonja and Kristin’s study, the group of people who were instructed to live their life as if it was their last showed higher levels of well-being at weekly check-ins during their four week trial.
Of course this is not suggesting to literally living your life as if it was your last, but it is about recognising that the good times will not last forever and that we have to treasure every moment of it. And, if we constantly think that life is short, it is easier for us to appreciate and be grateful of the small things in life; perhaps we will be a lot more content with our lives.
- Shake it up
Whenever possible, infuse variety into your life. This can mean finding a wider sample of enjoyable activities, as well as taking a break from certain ones altogether (which interrupts the cycle of adaption, enabling a renewed sense of pleasure when the break is over). Both strategies slow the process of adaption by creating a perpetual sense of newness.
- Focus on others
Based on the study, by diverting our focus to actively work on increasing the happiness of people close to us may be the best strategy to increase happiness. This was shown in the experiment where a group of people were asked to make a friend or a family member happy reported an increase in happiness. This supports their statement that focusing on the well-being of others is good for mental health and obtains greater fulfilment out of their daily lives. Hence, they feel more grateful for what they have.
Let’s pursue happiness together with IQI
Lyubomirsky, S., and Layous, K., 2014. Positive Emotion (Oxford University Press, 2014).