The Keys to Happiness


The Keys to Happiness


The new year is upon us, and with that comes the obligatory New Year’s Resolutions, and one of the most common resolutions is just being happier in life. So how does one simply become happier in and with their life? After some research, I rounded up the most re-occurring things you can do to become happier with and in your life, so here they are in no particular order!

Live in the Moment

Living in the moment, or mindfulness, is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. Mindfulness reduces stress, boosts immune functioning, lowers blood pressure, and can even reduce the risk of heart disease. Mindfulness involves not dwelling on the past or future. It doesn’t do us any good to stress over the things that have already happened or things that COULD happen. These things are out of our control and obviously stressing about them causes us to be unhappy.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

This can be quite an obstacle for some people.  It’s extremely difficult to put yourself in an awkward or uncomfortable situation. We all like to feel safe, but stepping outside your comfort zone is an amazing way to learn new things about yourself, thus improving your overall happiness. It’s an exhilarating feeling when you start learning more about what you are capable of doing and achieving and provides a huge self-esteem boost. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can save you a lot of grief in the future.

Continue to Learn New Things

Not only does learning new things keep our brains sharp and exercised, but it offers a sense of achievement and accomplishment when a new skill or subject is learned, and that does wonders for our sense of happiness. It always feels good when you accomplish something you set out to do. Plus, it keeps your mind off the everyday stressors in life, whether it be work, money, or relationships. I also think that feeling more intelligent or cultured is an amazing self-esteem booster as well.

Stay Busy, But Not Too Busy

In order to keep our minds off the stressful things in life, we like to stay busy, but some of us go overboard with it. We put too much on our plates, and end up creating more stress and unhappiness by taking away time from the things we like to do that ultimately help maintain our happiness. The key to successfully doing this, I think, is making schedules. Stay busy, but allow yourself the time to do the things that make you happy, even if it’s something as simple as reading a book for an hour or two a night, watching a movie, or playing guitar. If it makes you happy, make time for it!

Make Time for Friends and Family

I think this is an extremely important one, and it kind of goes along with the previous topic. Socializing is an important key to our happiness. Some of us though, like myself, just aren’t extremely sociable people. We are more content to stay in rather than go out to bars or malls or whatever. Call us introverts if you will. I do believe some level of socializing is important though, even if it’s only going out for a few hours on a Friday night. Staying home by yourself all the time can actually damage your self-esteem, thus leading to unhappiness. Being with friends or family gives you the opportunity to talk about things that may be upsetting you. Keeping that stuff bottled up is a recipe for disaster. Friends share your good and bad times, listen to your concerns, help solve your problems, and are always there for support. Friendship gives you a feeling of confidence, security, and just overall happiness, I think. Good friends will always have your back and that’s a very comforting feeling. Making and maintaining close friends takes effort though so making the time for them is crucial.

Staying Healthy and Exercising

Maintaining good health and a good diet is an extremely important factor in feeling happy. When you feel healthy, you feel good, which makes you feel happy! It’s that simple! It’s when we let ourselves be overcome with stress or depression, that we tend to let ourselves go. As our physical attributes become less appealing, we notice these things, and often become depressed and further let ourselves go. It’s a vicious circle. Exercise has a positive effect on our body as well as our mental health. Exercise causes the pituitary gland to produce and release endorphins, neurotransmitters that bind themselves to opiate receptors in the brain. This presence of endorphins causes our bodies to release additional sex hormones such as norepinephrine into our systems, which enhance our mood and sense of well-being. The brain, like the rest of the body, relies on the key nutrients from healthy foods to function properly. Regularly consuming fast food or other unhealthy foods can lead to debilitating mental effects including depression.

Giving Back/Gratitude

As a society, we are generally materialistic, I believe. Not all of us, but a vast majority. We feel the more we own, the happier we are. The media and our governments LOVE for us to believe this, since they need us to keep earning and spending to boost economic growth. From school onward, we’re taught that well-being stems from accumulating more and more wealth, achievement and success. So it may come as a bit of a surprise that there is no straightforward relationship between wealth and happiness. Once our basic material needs are met, like food, water, shelter, and financial stability, wealth only has a negligible effect on well-being. If anything, it appears that there is a relationship between NON-MATERIALISM and well-being. It seems having wealth and material goods doesn’t lead to happiness, but giving them away actually does. Generosity is strongly associated with well-being. For example, people who practice volunteering have shown that they have better psychological and mental health and increased longevity. I think the feeling that we get from helping others is extremely gratifying, thus an important key to happiness.

Find the Good in Everything

It’s extremely easy to overlook the good in a lot of situations. Especially bad situations. I always try to find something good in every situation, even if it is something miniscule and insignificant, and I think that’s extremely important to being happy overall. Optimism keeps us positive in an otherwise negative situation, which I think is crucial in overcoming the negative situation. Focusing on all the negative in a situation, only brings us down and depresses us even more, often making the situation even worse. I realize that it is sometimes hard to find the good in negative situations, especially something catastrophic, but finding and holding on to that one positive thing gives us a sense of hope, which in turn gives us the strength to push on and overcome. And when we overcome, we feel that sense of accomplishment, thus improving our happiness!

So there you have it! Those are some of the most popular topics I found and my thoughts on them. What do you guys and gals out there think? Sure there are a TON of other things you can do to be happier in life, and I think it really varies from person to person. It’s all about what works for you.

Davey Jones

Guitarist for Crowfly

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