The Science & Psychology of Happiness
Happiness Is A Matter of The Mind
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be”, Abraham Lincoln had once said.
Today we have the research to prove that he was indeed right. Happiness is a simple matter of the mind and the ones who learn how to become happy require little else to keep their spirits high, fight challenges and never lose hope.
The truth is that we have forgotten how to be happy, and today we need books and reams of research papers to tell us that it is indeed possible to be truly happy, no matter what your situation or circumstance in life may be.
Yes, happiness is simply a matter of the mind, a habit that we have forgotten to inculcate into our lives.
The Happiest Person In the World
A research at the University of Wisconsin Madison tested hundreds of volunteers and scored them on the level of their happiness.
One particular man scored significantly higher than everyone else on the test. He was Matthieu Ricard, famously titled the happiest person in the world.
After completing his PhD in molecular biology in 1972, Ricard chose to for forsake his scientific carrier so he could follow Buddhism and live a simple life in the Himalayas.
Now a French interpreter for the Dalai Lama, Ricard has been an advocate for happiness, writing several books on the subject and speeches all across the world, encouraging people to chose to be happy.
Ricard, perhaps one of the first to have successfully hacked the happiness formula, lives a simple and inspirational life, reminding people every day that happiness is a habit and not a complex, unattainable state of mind.
A recent newspaper asked Ricard what is there to be so happy about when the devastating earthquake in Nepal, his home for years, has claimed several lives. Ricard replied,
“Evolution has equipped us to focus on danger and drama. We have this overwhelming feeling of a wicked world. The banality of goodness is overlooked.”
Of course, no one is asking you to quit your job and live in the mountains to be happy. But as you will find from the life of Matthiu Ricard and findings of happiness research, happiness lies in living a simple life.
What is Happiness Research?
Happiness Research is the label that covers a wide range of research programs, usually conducted by economists, psychologists and sociologists, that aim to uncover the science behind happiness and life satisfaction and correlate them to our lifestyle and well-being.
A branch of psychology, aptly termed positive psychology has been providing people with a wealth of information, explaining how to be happy, what makes us happy, what makes life worth living and how to combat stress.
Happier people live longer, are healthier, make more money, are more successful and more resilient against challenges
Apart from the fact that being happy allows you to live a better life, there are a host of other benefits of being happy that none of us perhaps realize.
Happier people, as the happiness research suggests, live longer, are healthier, make more money, are more successful and more resilient against challenges.
Happiness, it seems to scientists has an almost magical power, and studies suggest it can add up to nine years to your life.
That, I imagine, is enough reason to dig into the happiness research and demand your share of happiness.
How To Be Happy
If you really were to dig deep into the happiness research, you would find that there are a million simple ways to stay happy. Here we are going to list a few ‘secrets’ of happiness.
Use Your Weekends Graciously
Even if you had the job of your dreams, research suggests that you would still be happier on the weekends.
A weekly time off from the chaos of your life is important to your health and happiness, so use your weekends to do the things you enjoy, connect to friends and family, or simply take a break.
Use Positive Affirmation, But Carefully
Positive Psychology has triggered the positive affirmation trend. We have all realized the importance of remaining positive, and the calming and powerful effect that affirmations can have on our lifestyle.
But did you know that if used wrongly, your affirmations might actually be causing stress?
The important thing to remember is that your affirmations should be realistic. Try, ‘I am going to get my promotion this month’, rather than, ‘I am going to be promoted to CEO this month’.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming big, but unrealistic positive affirmation don’t come true overnight.
Want What You Have
In other words, be grateful for everything in your life. The secret to happiness is learning to appreciate the people in your life, the things you own, and the achievements you have had. Psychologist Jeff Larsen says,
“Simply having a bunch of things is not the key to happiness… you also need to appreciate those things you have.”
Remember however, that having what you want is also pretty important. So don’t give up on your dreams and goals.
Make Time For Friends And Sleep
How many times have you cancelled on your friends or cut down on your sleep just to squeeze in some more hours of work? I imagine the number would be much more than you would care to admit.
Friends and sleep, research suggests, are good for health and make you feel less stressed. But you don’t need research to tell you that, do you? Just think about the effect a good night’s sleep and a few friends always have on you.
You have heard that laughter is the best medicine. Its time to test that out for yourself. Don’t hold back your laughter and always be on the lookout for moments where you can let out a good laugh.
Eventually, laughing will become a habit and you will find yourself feeling lighter and happier.
So the happiness research is really not all that complicated, is it? Just find what makes you happy and use it generously everyday.