What is Happiness?

The Art of Happiness

There is a fundamental difference in the way happy and unhappy people view the world. This colours their response to the events that take place around them because, quite simply, happy people see events in positive ways which maintains their happiness, while unhappy people see events in ways that reinforce their unhappiness. One of the key cognitive patterns associated with unhappiness is over-thinking or dwelling on negative ambiguous events which may drain cognitive resources and suffocate any emerging glimmers of happiness. So excessive introspection and analysis of events is counter productive to nurturing a happy disposition and managing any kind of mood disorder.

Social comparison is a real happiness killer

The hedonistic treadmill of a pay rise/new bathroom/the latest gadget or whatever floats your boat, even winning the lottery (which most people erroneously think will solve all their problems) have been proven to provide only temporary happiness before being seen as the new ‘normal’ so generating increased expectations. It is precisely these expectations that then raise the barrier to achieving further happiness in the future. It is not uncommon that people’s expectations become so high they block the experience of pleasure even in the midst of favourable circumstances. I saw this unfolding when I worked, years back at the tender age of 19, as a cook/housekeeper for a millionaire in Cannes in the South of France. He’d order me to lay down the Beluga caviar and pink champagne every Sunday while he held an orgy in his beautiful apartment overlooking the Croisette and in spite of all his efforts still looked as miserable as usual on Mondays.

Happiness facts

It isn’t genetic. 50% is certainly determined by genes and 10% by life circumstances but a whopping 40%is constucted by our intentional activities.
The rich aren’t as happy as you’d expect. (See above). Those in the USA earning more than 10 million dollars a year report levels of happiness only slightly greater than those they employ.
Happy people think they are better looking than they are and rate their attractiveness far higher than their unhappy peers.
Happiness peaks at 65 and doesn’t really start declining until 75.
Hugs make people happier.
People practising mindfulness are happier.

Enhancing happiness

Count your blessings. You can do so in your prayers, through contemplation or meditation, journaling or talking to a trusted friend or family member.
Cultivate optimism. Practise looking on the bright side of everything. Or write your imaginings of your best possible future in your diary and keep going back to it and up dating it.
Avoid social comparison. Stop overthinking. Drown yourself in the Flower essence White Chestnut or Beech or Willow. What a great way to go!
Practice acts of kindness. Nick Knowles must be one of the happiest people around. Honestly I cry tears of joy after every communal house building programme, all those hundreds of happy, shining faces!
Nurture relationships. Invest time and energy in them. Enjoy them. Affirm them.
Do more activities that grab your heart. Lose yourself in them. I went on a short painting course to the Isle of Wight this summer. I was absolutely entranced.
Replay and savour life’s joys. Share them with others. Every time I look out at my lovely garden my heart leaps with joy.
Commit to your goals. Not too many or you’ll go into overwhelm. One or two will do. Devote time and effort to pursuing them.
Develop strategies for coping. Practise deliberate ways to endure or surmount stress, hardship or trauma.
Learn to forgive. Journaling helps or praying and casting the burden if it proves too hard. Florence Scovel-Shinn the famous metaphysician who wrote ‘The Game of Life and how to play it’ tells you how, and it is very effective.
Practise religion or spirituality.
Become more involved in your church, meeting house, temple or mosque. Read spiritually themed books or poetry and dedicate more time to it in whatever way feels most appropriate and helpful to you.
Take care of your mind and your body. Hard to be happy for long on a crap diet. Engage in some kind of physical activity. Meditate. Pray. Smile.
Stop saying ‘I’m fine’ in that true blue British way when asked. Know what it stands for? Fucked up. Insecure, Neurotic and Empty. I prefer accuracy. Something like it’s a wonderful day, or I feel really well thank you.Or I’m buzzing. or onwards and upwards. I begin my answer phone message with ‘Hello this is Kitty Campion, larger than life and twice as beautiful’. Nothing wrong with that!