BY: Anna Keyter
Acceptance Commitment Therapy / Happiness / Positive Psychology / Telephone Counselling
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Positive psychology – choose happiness
We all want to find happiness, to smile and feel good about ourselves and our lives. This pursuit of happiness is intrinsic to human nature. Several self-report studies reveal that people rated happiness as more important than having meaning in life and being financially comfortable.
It would be great to experience lots of happy moments all the time. However, the belief in a constant state of happiness is not true. Happiness can be hard work and usually implies accepting a new way of reacting to discomforts. Being happy involves being in the moment, here and now, which entails a state of mind, and not a continuous feeling.
Do we have any control over finding happiness? Research tells us that yes, we do indeed! Although 60% of the happiness recipe is based on things we cannot control, such as genetics and temperament (50%), life circumstances (10%) also plays a part. 40% of our happiness comes from actions that we voluntarily and intentionally take.
Great!! So what do I have to do? So far, research and clinicians have come up with three possible pathways to find happiness as a state of mind.
The first path to happiness – pleasure
Neurologically speaking it involves dopamine, our “wanting system”. This is based on the present moment, at a very conscious level (getting a present, for example). However, we quickly fall back into old routines and habitual thinking (internal thinking processes). Basically, happiness through immediate gratification can be short-lived.
The second path to happiness – engagement
At the brain level, we are talking about oxytocin, the “love hormone”. It is also based on the present moment but at an unconscious level. Have you ever felt confident and great on accomplishing a chosen or assigned task? Or being totally absorbed in the moment and feeling that time is flying? This is what science calls “experience of flow”. Basically, it can be defined as the state of intense absorption and involvement in the present moment. Flow is experienced when there is a positive match between a person’s self-perceived strengths and skills and their current task. It is characterised by intense concentration, loss of self-awareness, and a feeling of being perfectly challenged. Flow is intrinsically rewarding, hence unconscious. Overall, it is a great feeling, but you are not fully aware of it.
The third path to happiness – meaning
Meaning is also based on oxytocin but is more applicable to social relationships, philanthropy and altruism. It is basically knowing your strengths and skills and using them for a higher purpose. A good example is deciding to do voluntary work.
Which source of happiness do you think is more effective in your life? Meaningful interactions are generally the pathway that people mostly reported that contributed to their happiness.
Why don’t you test one of the above options? Let us know which ones work for you by completing the form below.