The Secret to Happiness

People often say that confidence, ambition and optimism make a person more attractive. And, research shows people with more confidence in their looks tend to be happier than those who thought they were less attractive. But of course, we all know looks are fleeting and as we age and change, so does the way in which we measure our happiness. So, if being happy is one of the strongest contributors to career and personal success…how can we get more ‘happiness’ in our lives?

Here are a few ways.

Get Past Envy

We’ve all heard that finding purpose in your life can help you build a deeper foundation for fulfillment. But, why do we perceive some of our acquaintances or friends have found that secret potion, the sacred vial of happiness and we haven’t? Why do they appear so satisfied, happy and successful?

Well, it doesn’t take a secret potion to know that we live in a world of instant feedback, gratification and conspicuous consumption. And as Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D says “It is amazing how many ‘things’ everyone seems to have in their lives – and how many more things we might desire that we believe will make us feel even better about ourselves in relation to how we think others feel about us.”

We’ve all experienced varying degrees of envy on social media, where the lives of others can look impossibly good. Too good perhaps, to be true? Perception, or one’s personal interpretation can be a very strong persuader for our psyche. And, that has plenty of merit; it is genuine to experience thoughts or feelings of envy and desire. It’s universal and as most psychologists say, it’s normal. Imagine seeing a friend who has landed a new job, perhaps a fantastic job. It’s easy to feel envy and think; I wish that happened to me, because things would be…well, better. But the key to changing that feeling is getting envy under control says Robert Leehey Ph.D. “Honing that control, may actually help you gain greater success in the things that matter and may free you from the bothersome negativity that feeds your resentment, anxiousness and sense of humility.”

Be More Open

Being open to new experiences and people is a key aspect in fulfilling that sense of happiness.

Degges-White suggests that “being able to offer a sunny disposition to the world, regardless of your inner state, actually encourages you to physically feel better!”

She also suggests that when someone turns to you to help them deal with their problems, smiling at them will help you let go of your frustration and exhaustion and allow you to be present for them. As you can imagine, a continual sunny outlook is a hard trait to master, but think of those people you admire and want to emulate and how they always seem to have a pleasant disposition and take the time for other people no matter how busy their work schedule. Simply smiling authentically is the first step.

Maintain a Healthy and Positive Self-Image

Having a healthy image of oneself is a considered one of the most important aspects of happiness. Easier said than done?

For many people-body image issues are often thought of as a major social problem and not just for younger people, women and girls in particular. “Unfortunately, Age-related shame and our culture’s obsession with looking young has become so fanatical that many people are taking radical measures to maintain a youthful appearance,” says psychologist Jacqueline Gunn. There are plenty of articles on aging and how growing older affects your validation in the image-conscious business world. Ageism is an important societal topic for all generations. You don’t have to look far for implications and comments that there is something bad about aging, and that aging needs to be navigated carefully. As Gunn comments “Statements like ‘You look great for your age’ reveal our culture’s underlying perception about growing older.” Regardless of whether it’s business or personal life, we need to make an effort to address ageism; leave cliché comments regarding aging behind.

Be Empathetic; It Pays Back in Spades

Happiness although elusive for many, has one foot firmly planted in empathy. Studies have shown that those of us who have more empathy – that is, the ability to see from another’s perspective – feel happier and experience a higher state of well-being. A 2016 study suggests happiness is a predictor of empathy. Specifically, the authors studied people’s beliefs about whether happiness is flexible, controllable, and an internal influencer on their empathy towards others. Results suggested people who believe that our happiness is changeable, in our control and comes from within rather than from external circumstances were more empathetic.

So, what next?

  1. Start today, show some empathy, practice with your family, friends, even your dog. ‘Put yourself in someone else’s shoes’- try to understand a little of the other person’s perspective and reality. Being empathetic means you must think beyond your own concerns, which in the ‘me-first’ world of today, can be tough but worth stepping outside yourself in the next conversation to think beyond your own perspective. Try validating someone’s opinion and acknowledging their contribution.
  2. Act charitably and offer gratitude. The more charitable and grateful you are in life, the better the chances are that you will enjoy what you have and the positive influence you’ve spread. Gunn says one way to stop a cycle of stress is to “practice thinking about what we have to be thankful for.”
  3. Try volunteering your time and helping others. Volunteering is beneficial to your health, happiness and longevity. It makes you feel good by providing meaning, purpose and an opportunity to socialize with others.

Happiness is not so elusive; in fact it may be right in front of you. Try one of these ideas for your career and for your life. Your Happiness will grow exponentially.