“People are as happy as they make up their minds to be” Abraham Lincoln
I have been inspired by the work of Professor Martin Sellingman and Kathryn McEwen about happiness and resilience.
So what makes us happy? It’s all about attitude and importantly an ability to be present and enjoy “the now”.
Positive emotions – we have more control over our emotions than most of us believe we do. We can chose how we look at situations and how we might respond. The simple “gratitude” task, of identifying three things we are grateful for each day will make us focus on what has worked well, rather than what hasn’t, and make us feel happier with our lives.
When you go to bed tonight… go to sleep thinking tomorrow will be a great day – it’s amazing how changing our thought patterns can affect how we see the world.
Engagement – doing activities where we work in “flow” – the time simply disappears. What are the activities that you love to do, the ones that bring enjoyment and fulfilment? Understanding your strengths can help to identify this. Visit Martin Selligman’s website www.authentichappiness.org and do the VIA Strengths questionnaire to find out your signature strengths.
Relationships – I like to surround myself with positive people. People who give out energy, who enjoy life, are optimistic and fun to be with.
Having people in our lives we can rely on, we can off load on, to celebrate with and to cry with is important for our general well being and happiness.
Meaning – this is a sense of purpose – a connection to something bigger than ourselves and that we are making a contribution. This includes the application of your unique strengths and the development of virtues towards a larger end than yourself.
Achievement – Martin Selligman talks about Grit – the determination to work hard at something and to see it through. This sense of achievement of completing a task makes us happy. Our greatest motivator is a sense of progress and some recognition for this progress.
Martin Selligman has written several books about the art of happiness – Authentic happiness, Florish and Learned Optimism. I was very fortunate to hear him speak in Adelaide last year.
“The very good news is there are quite a number of internal circumstances, under your voluntary control, – if you decide to change them, your level of happiness is likely to increase lastingly – Selligman
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