I’ve come to realize a few important things in my time here some easier to grasp than others. For the longest time I thought: ‘If only I have more money THEN I would be happy’ or ‘If I only had a girlfriend THEN I would be happy’. When in reality none of these things really made me happy at all (funny huh?). It seems like saying this even seems to simple or universally known to even bother writing at all, but some people just need to hear or read simple truths to understand larger truths. Just like the building blocks of learning: one must grasp the initial concept (the foundation) to comprehend the larger concepts later on.
The building block or foundation of happiness is happiness. One begets the other (crazy how that works). It is exactly the same concept as the example of education: you cannot be happy in other areas of your life if you do not grasp the original concept of being happy with yourself. All too often I found myself trying to move mountains in order to secure my happiness, and all too often even if I managed to move that mountain there was another mountain to move altogether! By looking for happiness in others, possessions, and whatever else I still could not slake the hunger of what I was searching for…
What was I to do? I will tell you what helped get my ship on the right course to happiness.
1. I started eating healthier. Believe it or not the foods we ingest have a dramatic effect on us. I found that my entire outlook on life has dramatically shifted when I gave my body what I needed, and not junk-food! I no longer feel guilty about my weight (okay sometimes I do), but I am much happier with my body because we are working together now!
“Brian Wansink, Ph.D. of Cornell University studies what affects eating and how much. His studies suggest how moods affect our eating.
- Sad people tend to overeat with unhealthy food choices. They often eat to uplift their mood with a tasty indulgent snack or binge.
- Happy people tend to overeat less and choose healthier foods. They also consider the long term, so they choose healthier comfort foods.” (Stonyfield.com)
2. I practiced my religion. Religion isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay! But if you are looking to feel happier about your life and do practice a particular religion this may help! My religion helped me, because it allowed me to rid myself of negative feelings and channel it into something positive. For example: my religion calls me to forgive others (simple right?). I had hated this guy from High School for years, and we even had a fist fight. Every time I drove by his house I would flick his house off. But, it wasn’t really a problem with him: it was a problem with myself. So, I forgave myself of my shortcomings in order to forgive him. So, try using your religion to benefit yourself and others in ‘seeing the light’ and trying to live a more positive life.
“The study analyzed data from the 2005-2009 Gallup World Poll, a survey of people in more than 150 countries that included questions about religious affiliation, life satisfaction, respect, social support and positive and negative feelings. The researchers also looked at 2009 Gallup polling data from the U.S.
This is the first study to analyze religion and its relationship to happiness on a global scale, said University of Illinois emeritus professor of psychology Ed Diener, who led the research and is a senior scientist with the Gallup Organization.
Previous studies, many of them focused on the U.S., suggested that religious people tend to be happier than nonreligious people, Diener said. The new findings indicate, however, that religiousness and happiness are closely linked to the characteristics of the societies in which people live, he said.” (news.illinois.edu)
3. I volunteered my time, money, and expertise. I know, I know! I harp on this all the time, but there is a reason behind selflessness and happiness! I was so nervous that I was committing myself to something such as my youth group, community theater, education, and a lot of different things! You add something to your community, your family, your friends, and most importantly yourself. You reap many real benefits from giving of yourself believe it or not!
“People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness,” Snyder says. “All of these things go up as their feelings of social connectedness goes up, which in reality, it does. It also improves their health and even their longevity.” Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota.
4. Physical Exercise: One thing that stuck with me is that with physical exercise your body naturally releases endorphin’s are released (the feel good/reward chemicals released in the brain) when you work out! And you feel much happier knowing you are getting the required exercise you need to keep your body and mind healthy. It is scientifically proven that exercising helps the aging process, our coping process, and a myriad of benefits. And this is one that I have found particularly effective!
“Fortunately, it may be possible to exercise to happiness. It has been shown that physically active people recover from mild depression more quickly, and physical activity is strongly correlated with good mental health as people age (7). Depression is related to low levels of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. Exercise increases concentrations of these neurotransmitters by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system(12). In addition, serotonin has a reciprocal relationship with BDNF, i.e. BDNF boosts serotonin production and serotonergic signaling stimulates BDNF expression (17). Since exercise also increases BDNF production directly, there is a reinforcement of the serotonin-BDNF loop, indicating exercise’s significant potential as a mood-enhancer.” (The effects of exercise on the brain – MK McGovern of Bryn Mawr College)
5. Just love yourself. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. If you do everything else: workout, eat healthy, be nicer to others, but don’t love yourself than it is worth nothing. I have listed some positive affirmations on this blog and I encourage you to look at them, and remind yourself you are an original piece of art that has unlimited value. You have a million things to offer this world and you just need to let your light shine. Find people that encourage you and your happiness, but you need to find inner peace first. Since everyone is unique finding that inner peace is a journey for you to discover.
Self Respect: dignity: the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.
Self confidence: assurance: freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities
“High self-esteem has been reported to be one of the strongest predictors of psychological well-being (Rosenberg, 1965; Campbell, 1981; Diener, 1984). Shrauger (1995)
developed a scale: the Personal Evaluation Inventory (PEI) which measures specific
self-esteem and self-confidence in different aspects (speaking in public; academic
performance; physical appearance; social interactions; athleticism; together with general
confidence and mood state subscales) of individuals’ life. The convergent validity was
reported by Shrauger (1995) that the total PEI correlated r=0?58 with the Rosenberg
Self-Esteem Scale which suggests it is a useful multi-dimensional measure of self-esteem
and which will be used in this study.
Friendship has been found to be one of the predictors of happiness (Argyle, 1987). There
is a significant evolution in the characteristics that define friendships from infancy to older
adolescence, evolving from common interest for games and activities, to the sharing of
feelings, emotions and self-disclosure (Berndt, 1982). Peer friendship has been found to play
an important role in adolescence, mainly in providing social support and shared interests and
joined activities (Argyle, 1987). It is, therefore, expected to be related to both happiness and
loneliness but in opposite directions.”
Personality, peer relations, and self-confidence as
predictors of happiness and loneliness
HELEN CHENG AND ADRIAN FURNHAM
Take Home Message:
(1) Take time to appreciate the ones that love you unconditionally. By supporting them you are supporting yourself. We need others to lift us up as much as we like to deny it.
(2) Find inner peace for yourself and build off of that and channel that into your happiness.
(3) You are the best and only you there is. You are worth fighting for.
I want you to see a change in your life, and I want it to start today.
Be the change.