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Defining and Tracking Happiness

So, you’d like to improve your happiness? The first thing to do is to define happiness for yourself. We all know that happiness is not about having a big yellow smiley cartoon face or a false Pollyanna persona. And we know that it’s not about being “super-positive” or hyped-up like some over-caffeinated speed freak! So what’s happiness to you?

Take some time to think about the things that make you really feel happy. Think about the things that really count in your life. Happiness is a state of mind that is characterised by experiences of contentment, satisfaction, love or joy.

Happiness feels good. It’s worthwhile. It’s pleasurable. Happy people are accepting. They are able to accept that a rich and meaningful life is full of both pleasant and not-so-pleasant events. They can see beyond the immediate stresses and hassles of daily life to what’s really important. What’s important to you? Find some paper and make some notes.

Writing and keeping a journal is a great way to start. Make a few notes about what really counts for you. It might be family; friends; social connections; sporting activities; spiritual growth – it’ll be different for everyone. Whatever the areas are that bring you happiness, write them down – describe them in detail. List the names of the people involved. Make notes about exactly what it is that brings you joy. Take your time. Savour the experience. Enjoy it!

The point of this simple exercise is that it makes us focus on the areas of joy in our lives. As we write we re-live the experiences. We re-connect with the people in our mind. We see what real happiness is for us. And ideas about how to boost our happiness will start to emerge.

You might think about getting in touch with old friends. You might think about treating a loved one to a special treat, or giving some volunteer time to a cause that you feel strongly about. You might like to visit someone you know is lonely, or write them a letter. As you will know, one way to boost your own happiness is to help someone else become happy!

For more ideas of happiness, have a look at:

What Makes Us Happy

Content adapted from: Coach Yourself, by Dr Anthony Grant and Jane Greene, and Eight Steps To Happiness: An Everyday Handbook, by Dr Anthony Grant.

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