Happiness

Happiness

 

Our emotional intelligence (EI) can have a direct impact on the level of happiness we experience in our life and visa-versa. Research studies have shown that EI is a significant predictor of happiness. A UK study found that happier individuals were better able to regulate their emotions and that happiness resulted in an increase in the level of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, social-awareness and social-skills.

Happiness itself is based on how we view the events and circumstances of our lives. The definition relates to a state of well being that is defined and characterized by positive or pleasant emotions. The typical emotions associated with the state of happiness range from contentment to intense joy.

The question arises as to whether happiness is a result of your external environment (the situations you are in, the things you have) vs. your internal state of being, according to Silvia Boorstein “Happiness is an inside job”. This has been validated by Shawn Achor; a Harvard Professor who has extensively studied and written about happiness. He states “Happiness is a mindset for your journey, not the result of your destination.”

The concept of happiness and its relevance to wellbeing has a long-standing history. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson, an American founding father, wrote it into the United States Declaration of Independence. He included that the “pursuit of happiness” as a universal unalienable right.

The right to happiness is important because of the many positive benefits it has on our relationships, society, workplaces and our health. Being happy makes us more flexible, more able to see the big picture and be more creative. It has a cumulative effect on us making us better able to cope with stress, challenges and negative feelings. It is the most important component to making us more resilient.

Studies have been done that demonstrate that happy people live 7-10 years longer than less happy people. Heart disease risk was 22% lower in happy people. In addition happy people (people that were satisfied with life most or all of the time) were about 1.5 times less likely to have long-term health conditions. long-term health conditions

The United Nations has also recognized the importance of happiness at a global scale. Since 2011 they have invited member countries to measure their level of happiness.

In case you were curious here are the factors that were considered in the Happiness Report:

– GDP per capita                                    – Social Support

– Healthy Life expectancy                    – Generosity

– Freedom to make life choices

– Trust or absence of corruption, as explained by the publicly perceived absence of corruption in government and business

The countries that ranked top three in the Happiness Report are Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland. Canadians will be happy to know that Canada ranked #6 and USA ranked #13 out of a list of 157 countries.

But how do we go about increasing our happiness quotient? Happiness is something that we can make a conscious effort to impact and improve.

Martin Selignman, a noted psychologist created an acronym PERMA to summarize his findings on the components that we can take action on that can contribute to increased happiness levels:

  1. Pleasure. Spend some time at a spa, a nice warm baths, etc.
  2. Engagement. Spend time getting lost in an activity that we enjoy doing.
  3. Relationships. Spend time with loved ones; social connectedness.
  4. Meaning Spend time on a perceived quest or seek to belong to something bigger.
  5. Spend time on activities related to achieving goals.

Whether you believe that happiness is something that you ARE or something that you do, it does takes a concerted conscious effort. In order to increase levels of happiness action is required! It is a by-product of our attitude and the actions we take. In addition to incorporating Selignman’s PERMA approach here are some additional things that you can incorporate into your daily practices to help increase your happiness quotient:

  1. Spend more time in nature
  2. Move, play, get up and walk about. This gets our feel good endorphins.
  3. Increase the level of social connection and interaction. By spending time with up-lifting people we are uplifted.
  4. Take time daily to be grateful. Gratefulness rewires our brain for calm.
  5. Volunteer – giving our time to help others also raises our own spirits

It takes practice and attention to increase our happiness. Are you willing to take control and DO what it takes to BE happy?

 

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