Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do you want to be happy in your life?

A popular greeting card attributes this quote: “Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

Two decades ago a colleague of mine told me, “Lal! You are, like, the happiest person I know! How come you are so happy all the time?” He knows very well that in salary wise, I was drawing a very low salary as compared to others who were on par with my status. Still I was the happiest person whom he had ever seen. How can that be?

It was probably a surprising question, but I had a very long answer to give. See, I was unhappy for most of my life, I had even considered to give up my employments many a times.

Then I spent a couple of years following the series of training sessions of happiness. Now, happiness is my natural state. I cannot remember any time I felt unhappy for longer than 20 minutes.

All humans want to be happy, and happiness is useful for other things, too.

It is a very much known fact that happiness improves physical health and improves creativity. Happiness’ even enables you to make better decisions. It is harder to be rational when you are unhappy.

“What do I want from life?” This is the question each and every one of us asks us. Everyone might say “Well…I want to be happy.” I had many reasons to be happy: My husband was the tall, dark, handsome love of my life; we had two delightful boy and girl; my wife is beautiful and most understandable woman in the world; I was a writer, living in capital city. I had friends; I had my health; I did not have to colour my hair. But too often I sniped at my husband or my clerk. I felt dejected after even a minor professional setback. I lost my temper easily. Is that how a happy person would act?

Do let the sun go down on anger. I had always scrupulously aired every irritation as soon as possible, to make sure I vented all bad feelings before bedtime. Studies show, however, that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock.

Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.

Another tip is fake it till you feel it. Feelings follow actions. If I am feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I am feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful for her and my feelings toward her soften. This strategy is uncannily effective. In my opinion, challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things? learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places? are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well.

The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it is easy to think, I will feel good after I have a few cups of green tea…an ice cream…a good snack in the evening, it is worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things betterI often remind myself to “Enjoy the fun of failure” and tackle some daunting goal.

Play and have fun. Do not take life too seriously. Although we all have responsibilities there is no reason why we cannot approach much of our lives in a playful manner. In fact, those who do so will undoubtedly be happier. I would like share a few tips with you regarding the happiness which I have read in a book.

Tip 1:

Make happiness a priority. If happiness is not at the top of your list then other things will take precedence. If other things take precedence, they may well interfere with your efforts to feel good.

Tip 2:

Make plans to be happy. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

Just like in any other life domain, the successful pursuit of happiness requires planning.

Tip 3:

Set happy goals. Following on from Tip 2, planning requires effective goal setting. And do not forget to make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable,achievable, relevant and timed).

Tip 4:

Do things that make you happy. Although this sounds obvious, many people simply forget to do things from which they gain pleasure. And do them as often as possible.

Tip 5:

Set yourself tasks from which you will gain satisfaction. As well as pleasure and enjoyment, satisfaction is also an important part of happiness. So make sure that when you are planning your tasks and activities you include things that might not be fun, but from which you will gain a sense of achievement.

Tip 6:

Identify where your strengths lie. Know where your faults and weaknesses are to avoid problems. Know where your strengths lie to be really happy and to succeed in life.

Tip 7:

Utilise your strengths. Although we all can and should endeavour to improve in areas in which we are weak there is just as much, if not more, to be gained from focusing on the maximal utilisation of your strengths (including all your positive qualities and attributes). Moreover, happiness will be achieved differently for different people. A person suffering from depression due to chemical imbalance may get more help from a pill than from learning better social skills. A healthy, extroverted, agreeable, conscientious woman can still be unhappy if she is trapped in a bad marriage. Some people were raised by parents whose parenting style did not encourage the development of healthy self-esteem, and they will need to devote significant energy to overcome this deficit. For some, the road to happiness is long. For others, it is short.

Courtesy - Daily News By Lal FONSEKA- Productivity Consultant, Brandix Lanka Limited