The end of the academic year is here and with the end of the year comes the natural transition to the slower pace of summer. Why not take the extra time to evaluate your level of happiness? After reviewing many articles about happiness there are a few consistent themes. The studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. Here are a dozen things that any of us -- at any age or stage of life -- can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives .
Express gratitude. -- When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that's without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We're going to have a hard time ever being happy if we aren't thankful for what we already have.
Cultivate optimism. -- Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times .
Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. -- Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we're somehow "better" than the person that we're comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates -- KABOOM -- our inner Kanye West comes out! If we're "worse" than the person that we're comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we've done and dismiss all the progress that we've made. What I've found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn't stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
Practice acts of kindness. -- Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What's even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.
Develop strategies for coping. -- How you respond to the "negative" moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes "bad" events happens -- it's inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
Learn to forgive. -- Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.You see, your mind doesn't know the difference between past and present emotion. When you "hate" someone, and you're continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are toxic for your well-being. You put yourself in a negative and it stays with you throughout your day.
Increase flow experiences. -- Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It's when you're so focused on what you're doing that you become one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You're not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You're just completely engaged in the activity that you're doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus. Practice Biofeedback. Go to the WellU page to learn more about free resources on campus.
Savor life's joys. -- Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It's easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life's enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It's the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
Commit to your goals. -- Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you're fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option -- where you can't change your mind -- subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
Practice spirituality. -- When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they're here doing work they're "called to do."
So there you have it. No new flashy car or leather jacket needed -- just simple, scientifically-grounded wisdom for long-term happiness. These are all things you can start implementing today -- with or without a career change -- so I hope you pick one thing, commit to it and post your commitment in the comments section.
Click the video below to watch/listen to "Happy" by Pharrell Williams
"Clap along is you feel like happiness is the truth..."
Millman, D. Way of the Peaceful Warrier. H.J.KRAMER, 1984. Print.
Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. Print.
Tiger, Lionel. Optimism: The Biology of Hope. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979. Print.
Loehr, James E, and Tony Schwartz. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. New York: Free Press, 2003. Print.