Am I Happy Yet?

Many times, I struggle with the concept of ‘happiness’.  Even though I write about it, read about it and frequently talk about it, truly feeling happy can be illusive. Sometimes happiness can feel like an odd variation on kids in the back seat during a trip, “am I happy yet, how ’bout now, how ’bout now, how ’bout now……..?”

What I have decided is it’s just simpler to ask myself, “how can I be happier, right here, right now?”  That way my expectations are realistic, achievable and reasonable.

A couple of times a day I quietly disconnect from other people, places and situations. Once I am disconnected, I take direct action, to practice “Happierness.”

I find the simplest step into “Happierness” is:  Gratitude

* Waking Happier – As we awake take a few moments to be grateful, as this action sets our hearts and minds in the right direction.  Those first moments set our mood for the rest of the day. By starting out the day being grateful, our whole perspective changes.  This exercise changes our focus from inward to outward, making us more open and engaged to each moment of the day.

* Staying Happier – During the day, make a Gratitude List (and update it regularly).  If you’ve never done this before start with a list of people, places and situations you’re proud of, then just change the name of the list from “Proud of” to “Grateful for”. While you’re at it notice how changing one simple word affects your emotional state.  Gratitude lists also keep you focused, present and mindful.

* Sleeping Happier – If we take a few moments to be grateful before bedtime, studies show that we will fall asleep faster, and overall we have a better quality sleep!  Evening Gratitude will also help us let go of frustrations and stress which may have built up over the day.  This will also give us permission to enjoy and appreciate all the actions taken today which were positive.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Positive Psychology Researcher, describes happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

I describe “Happierness” as: “Actions taken which allow us to move toward joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile, while maintaining a sense of gratitude all along the way.”

Here are some additional thoughts to build a sense of “Happierness:”

RESIST PERFECTIONISM. When you set unrealistic goals for yourself, you’re setting yourself up to fall short. Aim to do your best, no one can ask for more than that.

FLIP YOUR NEGATIVE THINKING. If you focus on the downside of every situation and interaction, you’ll find yourself drained of energy and motivation. Try to think positively about your work, avoid negative-thinking co-workers, and pat yourself on the back about small accomplishments, even if no one else does.

DON’T TRY TO CONTROL THE UNCONTROLLABLE. Many things at work are beyond our control-particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

LOOK FOR HUMOR IN THE SITUATION. When used appropriately, humor is a great way to relieve stress in the workplace. When you or those around you start taking things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or funny story.

CLEAN UP YOUR ACT. If you’re always running late, set your clocks and watches fast and give yourself extra time. If your desk is a mess, file and throw away the clutter; just knowing where everything is saves time and cuts stress.

Adapted from: