We all want to be happy. When we're happy we are productive and become good at building meaningful relationships with those around us. However, happiness is a notoriously difficult thing to pin down and by focusing on it too intensely we can end up feeling unfulfilled. So think about what we need to do to flourish and to really be happy as a result. To help this process, here are some essential elements that should be in place for us to experience lasting happiness and well-being.
For us to experience well-being, we need positive emotion in our lives. Any positive emotion like peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, faith, inspiration, hope, curiosity, or love falls into this category and the message is that it's really important to enjoy yourself in the here and now.
When we're truly engaged in a situation, task, or project, we experience a state of flow: time seems to stop, we lose our sense of self and we concentrate intensely on the present. This feels really good! The more we experience this type of engagement the more likely we are to experience well-being.
As humans we are social beings and good relationships are core to our well-being. Time-and-again we see that people, who have meaningful, positive relationships with others, are happier than those who do not. Relationships really do matter!
Meaning comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. Whether this is a specific person or a cause that helps humanity in some way, we all need meaning in our lives to have a sense of well-being.
Many of us strive to better in some way whether we're seeking to master a skill, achieve a valuable goal or win in some competitive event. As such, accomplishment is another important thing that contributes to our ability to flourish.
Now that you're aware of all the things that make up your well-being and happiness, you can start to work on each one to live a rich, meaningful life.
Let's look at how you can do this.
Although we can't be happy all the time, we need to make sure that we often experience positive emotions such as pleasure, happiness, contentment, peace, joy, and inspiration. If you feel you're not experiencing enough positive emotions in your life, stop and think about why?
First, look at your career. Do you get to use your talents and strengths in your current role? If not how can you change that either in your current position or in another so you are valued for your contributions? Determine your strengths and look at ways to share them with others.
Next, identify people, events, or things that give you pleasure. Start to surround yourself with those things even if it is on a small scale in the beginning. For example, imagine you love being outdoors, surrounded by nature but spend a lot of time working inside. Why not bring plants or flowers into your space to experience this source of happiness in your work environment?
Spend time with positive people, do things that make you smile, and look at activities that bring joy to your world. The aim here is to find ways to bring positive emotions and enjoyment into your daily routine, and to ensure that you don't keep on putting these things off into a future that never quite arrives.
Do you feel engaged in your career and in life? Engagement is about being fully involved and enthusiastic about what you are doing. You can experience deep engagement when participating in sports, spending time with friends, or working on things that you're fascinated with.
You can increase your engagement at work by minimizing distractions, improving concentration and focusing on projects that provide an interesting challenge for your skills. When you feel engaged you are more productive, effective and put passion into your work.
Look at your interests. Do you make enough time for a favorite hobby or physical activity? Many of us let this important personal time slip away, especially when we're stressed or overloaded with work. Try to devote plenty of time to activities that make you feel happy and engaged. This is very important to attain life/work balance.
Do you have positive relationships in your life? These can be with anyone: family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues. Do you wish you had more of these relationships?
You probably spend a good majority of your time at work, so it's important to start here if you want to build great relationships. Good working relationships give us several benefits and make our work more enjoyable when we have strong relationships with those around us. Also, people are more likely to go along with changes that we want to implement and become more innovative and creative.
Looking at your personal life, do you enjoy the company of your family and friends, and do you find that they're positive and supportive? If not, then it's important to take the time to understand why. Are you devoting enough time to strengthening these relationships? And do you need to make more of an effort to reach out to your friends and family? Don’t wait for another time to have these relationships flourish because things can change in an instant.
Make a commitment to spend significant time with a friend or family member on a regular basis. Relationships take engagement and hard work, and they're often strengthened only when we make an effort to connect with other people. On the other hand, you can't do much to change people so if your relationships aren't positive, you need to decide how far should you seek to preserve them? Know when to cut your ties and put your energy into the relationships that serve your life and are rewarding for you to be in.
Do you feel that your life and work has meaning? That is, do you feel that you're connected in some way to a cause bigger than yourself? Most of us want to believe that we're working and living for a greater purpose. So finding meaning is important to our overall sense of well-being. When you set out to actively look for purpose in your life, the harder you try, the harder it can be to find.
Remember chasing butterflies as a kid? The more you ran, the more they flew to escape you. But sometimes, when you just sat on the grass and watched, they'd come to rest on your leg – if only for a moment. Finding purpose in your work can be very much like this. Don't run forward franticly, trying to find meaning. Instead, do a quiet, more thoughtful search. The meaning and purpose you seek may come to you when you least expect it.
Certain activities, such as mentoring a co worker, spending time with our family, volunteering, or performing acts of kindness can really improve our sense of meaning in life. If you feel your own life is lacking meaning, do these things - you'll find them hugely satisfying.
This might be the trickiest element simply because it's very easy to take things too far. For instance, in many societies achievement is highly valued and if we're not always busy, it can seem that we're not living up to expectations and living a full life. However to continually push ourselves too hard can easily run ourselves ragged in pursuit of the next achievement.
So take your time and prioritize your drive in life. If you suspect you're not devoting enough time or energy to accomplishing your dreams, then start now by first identifying what you truly want to accomplish and discover what you'd love most to do in your life. When you set concrete goals for yourself, and discuss them with your manager, partner, parents, coach or mentor, you are creating your image and path of the future. The images you hold about the future serve to guide and inspire you. They influence your present actions and decisions. This is why the power to create your future success comes from within.
By focusing on all of these elements, you can flourish in life and find the happiness and well-being you want. This is a good starting point for living a great life!
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