The psychologist Jonathan Freedman in 1978 stated that; "people generally agree about what they mean by happiness. It is a positive, enduring state that consists of positive feelings...and includes both peace of mind and active pleasures or joy".
In this article I examine strategies and philosophies that will bring more feelings of well-being and happiness into your life.
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Happiness is a choice
Happiness is what most of us strive for. Unfortunately many of us struggle to obtain and maintain this elusive state. Why is this?
In my opinion it comes down to the misunderstanding of what it takes in order to be happy.
Before we can switch happiness on and off at will, we must first learn HOW to operate the switch.
One of the fundamental mistakes that people make is thinking that happiness is the result of something else. In other words happiness is the by product of getting what we want.
Whether it is finding your ideal partner, landing a fantastic job, or becoming a multi-millionaire, most of us believe happiness will reveal itself once we have obtained all of our worldly goals. A complete myth I am afraid.
People that worry about money, will continue to do so even if they become multi-millionaires over-night. People that think that they are unattractive will continue to feel like this even when they find the partner of their dreams, and/or spend thousands of pounds on cosmetic surgery.
In order to be happy one must make the choice to be happy, irrespective of what is happening around us. No matter what your life predicament is, we all have the opportunity to choose to be happy.
There is a certain level of responsibility at work in order to obtain this elusive state, that involves taking ownership of our internal states.
If we fail to do this we hand over control to the lap of the gods in deciding your fate, much like a boat trying to navigate the stormy seas without any real direction.
The moment that we recognise that we can choose to be happy whenever we want, we become empowered with a sense of autonomy and control over life.
Sometimes the best time to be happy is for no reason at all.
We all have the powerful gift of being able to generate our own internal states, and we would be foolish not to capitalise on this, by feeling good as often as possible.
What makes you happy?
Thoughts are the raw material behind the positive feelings associated with happiness.
It is a no brainer that positive thoughts encourage feelings of happiness, while negative thoughts understandably reduce feelings of positivity.
But what actually makes a thought, positive or negative?
There are 2 attributes that decide where a thought exists on the positivity/negativity spectrum its "content" and its "power flow".
The content is the actual subject matter of what we are thinking about, while intensity defines the thought in terms of its strength and overall power.
The "content" grounds the thought, while the "power flow" of the thought defines the direction (positive/negative) and the level of conviction of the thought.
An easy trap to fall into is to assume that the content determines the direction of the thought, when in fact the same content can be directed in both positive and negative directions.
Content: Thinking about your job that you have just lost.
Negative power flow: You create strong internal feelings of sadness, accompanied by visions of a bleak future. You spend hours upon hours ruminating over the disappointment of being sacked, vividly replaying the whole event.
Positive power flow: You create a strong internal representation of your sudden increased freedom. You begin losing yourself in inspirational day dreams of all the wonderful things you could now embark upon.
From this example you can see the same content can take two completely different directions.
There is an equal choice of directing the mind towards the positives that may come out of an event. Being positive is an attitude that we all have the power to embrace. And it is important to view this mindset as operating completely independent from external events.
Feeling unhappy with life at some point may have been your choice.
In the face of adversity, if you can make the choice to be happy, positives can be gleaned from every experience.
"A man's life is what his thoughts make of it" Marcus Aurelius
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