The pursuit of happiness

Do you live with discontent? Are you waiting for happiness to find you? You may be waiting a very long time! Happiness doesn’t just arrive at the front door and let itself in, it’s something that has to be cultivated.  In fact, science is telling us more and more about what it takes to be happy — and most of it relates to our personalities and to our thoughts and behaviours — two things that can be altered.

Contrary to what many believe, those who are wealthy, stress-free, or beautiful, are not actually happier than those who don’t have these things. Rather, those who are happiest seem to have the following in common:

  • They spend time with family and friends
  • They practice gratitude
  • They are optimistic
  • They feel a sense of purpose
  • The live in the present – a form of mindfulness

Happiness then, is something we can all practice. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Invest in meaningful relationships:
    Surround yourself with optimistic and happy people allowing their positivity to boost your own. Then, slowly begin sharing your own optimism and contentment with others. Good friends and cherished family members are in their own right worth celebrating, so invest in and care for these relationship and let people know that you appreciate them through kind words and actions.
  2. Practice gratitude:
    Gratitude is about more than saying thank you. It’s about recognizing good fortune as it happens in daily life. To learn more, click here.  Begin by identifying and giving thanks for at least one thing every day. A visit from a friend, someone who held the door when you were burdened with shopping bags, or a hug from a co-worker, are just some examples. Fall asleep grateful and awaken to the same thought each morning.
  3. Be optimistic:
    Try to see things through an optimistic lens. If you’re not an optimist by nature, begin by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them and trying to view them differently — or try dealing just with the facts, instead of the “what-ifs”.
  4. Find your purpose:
    Those with a goal or mission in life are happier than those without. Having a goal provides us with a sense of purpose, increases our self-esteem, and unites us with others who share our pursuit. If you’re not engaged in something that brings purpose to your life, consider the causes that excite you, the areas where you’ve achieved success, and the legacy you want to leave.
  5. Live in the present:
    Celebrate the small pleasures of everyday life. Focus on the positives of the present instead of dwelling on the past or stressing about what’s to come.
  6. Exercise:
    You don’t need to run marathons, but you do need to make time to be active every single day. Exercise is a proven stress-buster and benefits not only our physical health, but our mental health too. Go for a brisk walk or run to leave pessimism or a bad mood behind.
  7. Let it go:
    If you’ve been carrying a grudge or holding onto anger, you need to let it go. Can’t do it on your own? Get help so that you can release yourself from the burden and find optimism, happiness, and freedom.

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