Interest in happiness is rising…
Whether tackled in books, analysed through academic research, adopted by government initiatives — with the UAE appointing a Minister of Happiness for example, taught at the Harvard University by Professor Arthur Brooks, or even celebrated globally on March 20 — following a United Nations resolution.
Happiness is everywhere.
Except that it isn’t…
Beyond this rosy spread of happiness and its scientifical evolution in the world of today lies a pretty gloomy landscape, shaken by earthquakes, shattered by financial crisis, stock market crashes and bankruptcies, demolished by corruption, natural disasters, pandemics, pollution, poverty, shortage of resources, anger, protests, violence and wars, instability and insecurity.
So… where do we really stand?
Apart from the internal genetic predisposition of some individuals to be apt to easily feel happier than others, the outer world and its circumstances have a huge influence on one’s state of mind and emotions.
The Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 eras saw a peak in human anxiety and sadness, sparked by fear of the unknown and the devastation left by the loss of loved ones. According to the 2022 World Happiness Report, social media and survey measures of sadness and anxiety clearly increased during Covid-19 for a relatively long period. And the current global circumstances and atmosphere aren’t really inviting us to feel ecstatic.
Today, with the increase of global crises and governments facing challenges to sustain a certain standard of living for their citizens, we can no longer rely on our governments and communities to make us happier. It is time to take responsibility, switch happiness to an internal effort, and adopt individual measures, a pattern of behaviour to improve and sustain one’s own well-being. According to Professor Arthur Brooks, ‘habits are what brings you happiness and not circumstances.’
Having said that, there are some habits that I’ve personally worked on developing to secure my own well-being and feel at peace and satisfied in my day-to-day life, regardless of the external factors that may come into play. Robin Sharma, leadership expert and author of The Greatness Guide said: ‘If you want to be happier, do more of the things that make you happy‘:
- Optimizing my health and well-being: I work on my physical and mental health. I exercise daily to increase my serotonin levels, keep my body and brain active and aligned and feel good. A healthy body is home to a healthy mind. I also practice mindfulness to connect with my inner self and gain awareness of my senses and the space that surrounds me. I eat well and try to get some quality sleep (which doesn’t always work). Once I have all these factors in check, I automatically feel lifted,lighter, at peace with myself and fulfilled
- Building meaningful and positive connections: We are social creatures by nature. We strive for connection. Having meaningful relationships, real friendships, and a family that I love is fundamental to feeling happy. I spend my time with people who lift me up. People whose energy matches mine, people I feel safe and at ease with. I do not waste my time and energy on meaningless relationships and deal friendships — I always focus on the real
- Practising spirituality and gratitude: to lift myself up. I believe in a power that is greater than humanity, that elevates my spirits and grows my faith. I contemplate. I spend time in nature and practice gratitude daily. I’m always thankful for the little joys, the simplest moments, the smiles, the weather – every little detail that makes my soul vibrate, and makes me feel lucky to be alive and content with what I have and who I am
- Being generous: with everything I give — time, feelings, friendship. I practice benevolence and try to do good, at all times. Doing good makes me and others feel good. I try to have an altruistic behaviour; help another person without expecting anything in return. It can be through helping strangers, donating money, giving blood, sharing knowledge, volunteering. I always try to find my formula
- Finding purpose: and what makes my life meaningful. Instead of relying on external approvals and recognition, I nurture my own growth, set intentional goals for what I need to achieve in order to get better: keep on learning, reading, improving my skills and capabilities. I keep working on myself. I make myself my own competition, trying to make decisions that will help me drive better choices. Only then, do I feel motivated and encouraged to achieve more
Finally, to all of you out there, I say: ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars‘ — Oscar Wilde.
No matter where you are, find your own stars, and keep chasing them…
Featured image: MI PHAM / Unsplash