Happiness, Happy: We can experience happiness in many different forms. It is the pleasant feeling we have when we experience positive emotional sensations. Do you treat happiness as one of your ultimate goals in life? We dedicate much of our lives to the pursuit of it, but how often do our personal definitions of happiness change? Can relief bring happiness? What are the different possible avenues from which happiness can come? Since happiness is usually derived from pleasure, should we not analyze the source of pleasure? Is it acceptable when someone feels happiness after causing another person harm? When you find that elusive feeling, are you consciously aware of the benefits and effect of being happy, such as attitude and consideration for others? Is happiness we receive from physical sensations as worthwhile as happiness we gain emotionally? Do you seize opportunities to spread it to those around you? What makes you happy? Are you generally and genuinely a happy person?
For some people, happiness results from making others happy. For instance, Peter Sharp of Perth, Australia, recently had a You Tube video of his “Moving Train Dance Party” go viral. What, you ask, was the reason for the impromptu party? Sharp simply wanted to make other people happy. The tuxedo-clad Sharp announced to his fellow passengers that he was going to dance and that they should join in by clapping or getting up themselves to dance. After making it clear that he did not want money, but only to spread a little happiness, Sharp turned on James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and began dancing up and down the length of the train car. At first, only a few of the passengers got up to dance with him, though one could see that most of them were smiling. Amazingly, by the end of the three minute video, most of the passengers were dancing, and boarding passengers were greeted with happiness as they entered the train. The truly remarkable thing is that almost everyone, whether dancing or sitting, had a smile on their face and acted happy! Mr. Sharp, great job.
Many of us, however, are slightly less fortunate because we do not have someone like Mr. Sharp to coax us into being happy. Sometimes, making oneself happy in spite of all the modern-day annoyances and stressors seems impossible. According to Hanzo, a recent report released by the University of Michigan emphasizes that, “when it comes to your health and happiness, the relationships you have with others play a main part.” Dr. Drell, a Louisiana State University Psychiatrist, adds “solid, positive [relationships] are associated with less stress, increased happiness, increased immune system, increased health and increased longevity.” Certainly, this suggests that, in creating a good life, one must have cheerful, optimistic friends and family around to assist in creating happiness.
However, according to Seidman (Time Magazine), experts have recommended a few more strategies for happiness in addition to surrounding oneself with positive people. First, having a can-do attitude is essential. One must believe that happiness is possible and, then, be motivated to create it. Second, think about happy/positive events because experts say that doing so will give your mood a boost toward happiness. The next two are “Know you own bliss” and “prioritize it.” According to one expert, “a key to steering your own happiness is reflecting on the things that make you come alive,” which might be different from those things that did it for you as a younger person, but the essential “carefree state” of mind will be familiar. Prioritizing the things that make you happy is necessary because people usually allow the “stuff that needs done” to intrude on fun time. In an efficiency minded world where we sacrifice fun and happiness by convincing ourselves that doing more work will lessen our stress, it is easy to understand why the time we set aside to do the things that make us happy should be protected as sacred. Next, experts suggest savoring every pleasant moment, be it a funny You Tube video, a relaxing shower, or a particularly fine meal. Appreciate and share these pleasant moments with others because studies show that those who do are much more likely to remain happy, regardless of what happens during their day.
Importantly, the final strategy for happiness that we will discuss is “Be nicer.” Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside, emphasizes that she has “found that when people are told to try to do three to five acts of kindness a week, they get happier.” Lyubomirsky contends that simple acts of kindness, such as complimenting or smiling at someone, not only brightens the day of the person receiving them, but also makes the “giver significantly happier.” Sounds like a win-win solution to me, so spread happiness wherever you go and know that you are making the world a better place.