You can be Happy, an article by Professor Daniel Freeman
Over the past fifteen years happiness has received more attention from psychologists than ever before. The bottom line from all this research is simple and inspiring: we can all become happier.
How do we do it? Here’s a selection of techniques that have been proven to get results.
One tried-and-tested technique to tackle negative thoughts and feelings is to write about them. Psychologists call this expressive writing, and it’s been associated with a host of benefits, from greater happiness to an enhanced immune system.
Aim to write for twenty minutes three to four times each week. Don’t analyse your thoughts and feelings; simply describe them. Amazing as it seems, you’ll discover that merely writing your worries down is enough to rob them of their power.
What’s going right for me, right now?
Take a few minutes to think about the good stuff in your life at this precise moment and make a little list. It doesn’t have to be big things. Maybe you’ve enjoyed a delicious snack or had a nice conversation with a colleague or friend. If you find it tough to think of anything positive, try to keep going until you have at least one example.
Find your role model
We all need role models – someone who can inspire us to become the person we dearly wish to be. Whoever it is that inspires you, spend a little time each day thinking about them. If it’s someone currently in your life, keep those ties strong. If not, perhaps you can read about them, look at photographs, or savour memories. Think of your inspiration as a beacon, always pointing the way to where you want to go.
Prioritise your “5 a day for happiness”
What we do can have a profound effect on the way we feel. But if we’re choosing activities to increase our happiness, which ones should we go for? We recommend “5 a day for happiness”:
- Prioritise your relationships with friends and loved ones. Research shows that the stronger your relationships, the happier you’re likely to be.
- Be physically active. A healthy body really does help produce a healthy mind.
- Cultivate your curiosity. Take the time to notice what’s going on around you; the appearance of the objects and people nearby; the sensations in your body. You’ll be truly engaging with your world. And you’ll discover that there’s much more to enjoy than you ever suspected.
- Learn new skills. It’s great to feel that you’re becoming increasingly proficient at an activity, whatever that might be. You’re moving forward: sticking to your task and developing new skills. It’s be fantastic boost to your self-confidence – and fun, too!
- Help other people. Numerous studies have found that helping others – giving our time, attention, and energy – is a crucial element of well-being.
Try to identify at least one goal for each of the “5 a day” activities. If that’s too much, start with one and then move on.