by: Frances Evesham
Wouldn’t it be great to know the secret of real happiness? Then maybe we could turn it on when we want to.
We try hard enough, after all. We shop, we work hard so that we can buy new things, we try to be as thin as the latest celebrity. But do these things really make us any happier?
Isn’t it true that all we get is just a temporary burst of happiness. It doesn’t last. Before long, we’re back where we started.
So is there a secret key that will unlock the door to real contentment?
The scientific approach
Dr Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania think they may have found at least some of the answers.
By taking a scientific approach, they’re starting to find some of the ‘virtues’ that will help us all to blossom in the long term. Slowly but surely, their work is showing us fascinating opportunities. They’ve found, for example, that people who report positive emotions tend to live longer and that those who are optimistic can perform better at work.
So, let’s aim to bring some of the virtues that Seligman’s spotted into our own lives, knowing they might make us happier and healthier.
The Six Virtues that lead to happiness
Wisdom is important, so is having the courage to keep going when things are against us. So it’s worth persisting when things get tough, putting in the extra work and learning from our mistakes.
Looking out for other people and letting them be close to us really matters, and so does behaviour that is right and just. So why not ring your mother, email your friends and help out your neighbour?
Enjoying life and having fun is good for us, while it’s important to have some self-control. It also helps to keep aware that the world is bigger than the individual. Time spent gazing at the stars, or practising your juggling, is time well spent.
By making small changes, we can enrich our lives. It just takes some thought.
Bring beauty into your life
Here’s an example. Appreciating beauty is a personal strength that helps us to feel that spiritual connection to the rest of the world. So why not make sure that, every day, you enjoy something that pleases one of your senses? It could be something you see, or hear, or touch, smell or taste. The important thing is to take a moment to appreciate its splendour.
If you love music, make time to listen to your favourite piece. Really listen, don’t do something else at the same time, but relax, tune in and let the good feeling wash over you.
Or if you love chocolate, sit down, break off a piece and eat it, making sure that you appreciate everything about it. Enjoy the feel of it as it dissolves in your mouth, breathe in the chocolaty smell and savour the taste. Realise how much more pleasure you’re getting from taking your time to appreciate it, than you get when you wolf a bar down so quickly you can hardly taste it.
Apply the same thoughtfulness and enjoyment to other pleasures throughout the day, and notice how much more you start to enjoy your life.
Frances Evesham is a writer on communication, speech and language, NLP, happiness and well-being topics and writes for the SpeechContacts website as well as publishing books and articles in print and on the web.
She worked for many years as a speech and language therapist and is an NLP practitioner and a registered intermediary in the criminal courts.
The SpeechContacts website is a resource for people who are interested in people: in how we talk together, why we need to listen to each other, why the way we communicate with each other is one of the most important things about us, how we can find happiness.
There’s information on communication, on things that might go wrong, and on what we can do to overcome any communication difficulties, how children learn to talk, what to do if you stammer, how NLP can help you, how to use language cleverly to get what you want, how to be happier, how to get on with people and much more.
If you’d like to read more, go to http://www.getmeoffthehook.com/speechcontacts/happwell.php
You can download a free iphone application at http://www.getmeoffthehook.com/speechcontacts/happy.php and find new ideas for increasing your happiness. There’s a new one every day for a year, and they’re all free.
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