Why is the Art of Being Happy sometimes so elusive? Don’t give me the ol’ “Being happy is an inside job” because I know that, I preach that…and on the inside I AM happy. It’s the things going on around me in the world that yank me violently from that place of bliss. Unfortunately, it’s my job to deal with those things in the healthiest way possible, and sometimes that’s tough. Necessary, but tough.
I read an amazing book a couple of years ago called, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, by Eric Weiner. A ridiculous and cliché statement, but I found a lot of happy in that book.
“Using the ancient philosophers and the much more recent “science of happiness” as my guide, I travel the world in search of the happiest places and what we can learn from them. As I make my way from Iceland (one of the world’s happiest countries) to Bhutan (where the king has made Gross National Happiness a national priority) to Moldova (not a happy place), I calls upon the collective wisdom of “the self-help industrial complex” to help him navigate the path to contentment.
I travel to Switzerland, where I discover the hidden virtues of boredom; to the tiny-and extremely wealthy-Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, where the relationship between money and happiness is laid bare; to India, where Westerners seek their bliss at the feet of gurus; to Thailand, where not thinking is a way of life; to a small town outside London where happiness experts attempt to “change the psychological climate.” I am no dispassionate observer. In his quest for the world’s happiest places, he eats rotten Icelandic shark, smokes Moroccan hashish and intervenes to save (almost) an insect in distress.”
I’m going to have to bust that book out again. I need a new perspective, and that’s OK…we all need a good tune-up every now and then. My big-girl panties are around here somewhere, I just need to slap them on my butt, slap a smile on my face and KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON. ~ST
By Anna Selner
For over a decade, a very serious group of researchers in psychology in the United States have been tackling a new question. Tired of dwelling on problems that conventional psychology explored for over a century and a half, that of trying to understand how to treat mental illness, they asked themselves, “Why not try to understand why people are happy?”
Thence positive psychology was born. Whilst it is commendable to relieve people of their psychological suffering, the fact of increasing life satisfaction is a promising area not only to increase happiness, but also to treat disease. But do not confuse “positive psychology” with “positive thinking”, the scope of the former being much larger and complex.
For example, positive psychology shows how we often rely on shortcuts to increase our well-being (pleasure, entertainment and excesses in various areas of our lives). This vision of happiness leads to too many people, even if they have great wealth, finding themselves spiritually empty and hungry.
Instead, positive psychologists say we ought to rely on our strengths and personal qualities to find happiness and delight, as positive emotions that deviate from authentic and moral attitudes inevitably lead to emptiness and depression.
Are you naturally happy? Do you have strategies of your own that offer positive psychology? Here’s a little test from the book Authentic Happiness, by Martin Seligman, one of the founders of this new science.
Do we have real control over our sense of happiness? Can we grow this feeling and keep it over the years? Like the great thinkers of mankind, from Confucius to Aristotle, through to St. Thomas Aquinas, positive psychology has identified fundamental virtues which, when experienced frequently, feed and maintain happiness. These fundamental qualities, six in number, are: wisdom and knowledge, courage, love of humanity, justice, temperance, and spirituality.
Here are 24 forces that research in positive psychology has identified help you stay happy!
3. Open-mindedness and critical thinking
4. The pleasure of learning
6. Authenticity and honesty
9. Optimism and enthusiasm
11. Emotional Intelligence
15. Compassion and forgiveness
19. Enjoying beauty and excellence
20. Gratitude and appreciation
23. Faith and spirituality
There are also other factors recognized by positive psychology. These are attitudes and ways of seeing the world that provide our daily well-being, if we take the time to appropriate them, that is.
To forgive is to understand and situate the wrongdoing or pain of a situation in its proper context. Forgiveness is often difficult because it goes beyond the fact. It helps us accept blame and move on. It liberates and restores relationships, another great way to keep oneself happy.
An optimistic person is one who is willing to believe in a favorable outcome when a situation does not suggest a sure result. Optimism helps attain a lot of happiness. It also helps us to be grateful for what we have, and it lets us entertain hope for the future.
Through positive psychology, we can reserve many good surprises for ourselves for years and years to come. It lets us develop a positive perspective towards happiness with total abandon.