Happiness is all in the mindset

Only you can decide happiness

We all have emotions and our emotional stage at any one time can affect our mindset on life. As such, I strongly believe that the ability to control and ‘manage’ our emotions is very important as it is a deciding factor of our ‘happiness index’. If one is thankful for what one already has and perceives one’s state of life as ‘satisfying’ in one’s life, one will naturally feel happy. Conversely, someone who is forever not satisfied with whatever he/she has will never be happy.

Simple as the saying goes, it is usually easier said that done. It is often a great challenge for many of us to get over irresistible temptations that pops up all around us! Whenever a new luxury product is launched and people get to see and witness its powers, it is often difficult to resist the urge to acquire it and this urge gets stronger when they see others in their community owning and using it in no time! Soon, people start to think of excuses and reasons to want more things for themselves in addition to basic needs by calling it a way to reward themselves for working so hard or see it as a move up the social ladder or a mark of prestige in their own right. The list will go on and as people engage themselves in this never ending material pursuit, their emotional state changes according to the progress of this pursuit.

To people who enjoy the process of the pursuit for new and more advanced way of life, they naturally also enjoy happiness in their pursuit experiences. Thus, their mindset is tuned towards this direction for as long as they still have the energy and passion to continue with their trendy pursuits. To those who lagged behind in the pursuit for some reasons, dis-satisfaction will start to set in and their happiness index also plunge as they find it increasingly more challenging to continue with the pursuit. Hence, it is very true that we are the masters of our own destiny and therefore can decide the type of life we want, the level of comfort and the amount of luxuries we aspire to have to fit into our own definition of a good life for ourselves.

As such, I believe that everyone of us can ‘bring happiness’ into our lives by adjusting our own mindset to be in line with the status of our life which includes our income level, demands of our changing commitments and perceptions of life as and when necessary. Just as beauty is in the eyes of  the beholder, happiness is in the mindset of the being.

Since a person who is satisfied with most aspects of his life can be considered a happy person.  How then do we define satisfaction and its relationship with needs and expectations? In life, everyone of us is bound to set his/her own ‘standard’ or ‘target’ that he/she wants to achieve. Once a person perceives that this pre-set standard or target has been attained, he/she is deemed to have achieved his/her “Satisfaction Level” in life.  Generally, most people would regard a SATISFIED person to be a HAPPY person too.

However, satisfaction and happiness can have different meanings to different people. To those who are easily contented with simple and basic needs, they are satisfied easily and hence are happier than others who needs more to achieve satisfaction.

The philosophy of life satisfaction is also closely linked to the upbringing of the individual, the environment he/she grows up and his/her general outlook in life. In addition, the nature of the life experiences people have been through can also influence the way they view life satisfaction and happiness.

By and large, I felt that Life Satisfaction can be achieved through having good Emotional Well-being and favourable Life Evaluation. Emotional well-being refers to the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experiences – the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant. Life evaluation, on the other hand, refers to the thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it. When a person finds both his/her emotional well-being and life evaluation at any point in his/her life at a level he/she desires or set to reach, he/she can be considered as a satisfied person and with feelings of happiness.

Happy feelings are associated with “the fulfilment of psychological needs: learning, autonomy, using one’s skills, respect, and the ability to count on others in an emergency.” Although a good chunk of happiness is controlled by our genes, we can take certain simple actions to satisfy ourselves and achieve happiness. Some of these actions are:

1. Be grateful for whatever we already have
Showing gratitude for the good things you have is the most powerful happiness boosting  activity.

2. Do what you are good at as often as possible
Most people enjoy doing things that they are good at and would not mind doing it repeatedly. The tasks are usually easy feats for him/her and can be completed very quickly with no or little difficulties and the completion of such tasks never fail to give him/her a sense of satisfaction and feeling of self-fulfilment and happiness.

3. Spend as much time as possible with people we like
Relationship building is key to a satisfied and happy life. Hence, we should spend as much time as possible with people we like and this great feeling of belongingness is almost impossible to replace.

4. Stay healthy
A healthy lifestyle gives us a healthy body which enables us to pursue whatever we want in life. Being free from illnesses and the ability to perform all types of activities can definitely give us great life satisfaction and happiness.

5. Give and share whatever we have with others
Giving makes us happier than receiving. In fact, it can create a feedback loop of happiness in your life. Volunteering makes us happier and can therefore be the most selfless way to be selfish. Helping others reach their goals brings joy. Doing nice things for others today can literally make you happier for the rest of the week.

6. Take time to enjoy the good things in life

  • Positive mental time travel: Happy memories or looking forward to something
  • Being present: Not letting your mind wander and being absorbed in the moment.

Savouring is one of the secrets of the happiest people. Focusing on the limited time you have in this life is a good way to remind you to savour what is important.

7. Strive to do your best in all your endeavours
Most people don’t usually do what brings them joy, they are more likely to do what is easy. Set ambitious goals and strive. Thinking about what happens to you in terms of your self-esteem will crush you — look at life as a growing and learning process.

Sitting on the couch watching TV does not make you happy. You are happier when you are busy and will probably have more fun at work than at home. Thinking and working can beat sad feelings. A wandering mind is not a happy mind. Mastering skills is stressful in the short term and happiness-boosting in the long term.

8. Be optimistic at all times
Thinking happy thoughts, giving hugs and smiling can keep one happy.

People with positive illusions about their relationship are more satisfied, score higher on love and trust and have fewer problems.

  • Overconfidence increases productivity and improves teamwork.
  • “Self-deception has been associated with stress reduction, a positive self-bias and increased pain tolerance, all of which could enhance motivation and performance during competitive tasks.”

Lots of little good things is the path to happiness. All you need is frequent boosts of little good things and not rare big stuff. For the most part, don’t bother to try and reduce the bad so much as you increase the good. Hence, stop thinking about big events that might make you thrilled — it’s the little things of everyday life that adds up to our satisfaction and make lasting improvements to our life.

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