Tag Archives: Psychology Today

Three ways to increase happiness

Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”  Nathaniel Hawthorne

Happiness is something many people strive for and fail to achieve.   Happiness can be elusive to some and easy to obtain for others.   A new film called “Happy” is documenting happiness, where it is found and how people live a life of happiness.

Recent research provides some steps to achieve greater happiness.   The study of happiness is growing and is a reflection of the positive psychology movement and the strengths movement.  Markus Buckingham one of the leaders in the strengths movement shows people why strengths are important in this short video.   People that use their strengths are happier.   Don’t know your strengths then got to viastrengths and find out what your strengths are.

Another aspect of happiness is purpose.    Having a purpose increases happiness.   Knowing who you are what you are gifted at doing and having the ability to use those gifts increases happiness.    If you haven’t found your purpose or aren’t sure you have a purpose take a look at this.   See if you can figure out your purpose, you’ll be happier when you do have a defined purpose.

The third element of happiness is developing relationships.    Relationships that work well increase happiness.  As we approach the holiday season many people feel stressed due to the fact many relationships aren’t what they should be.   Here are some hints on dealing with broken relationships.

Three steps to increase happiness.

1. Know your purpose

2. Strong and deep relationships

3. Knowing and using your strengths.

What are you doing to increase your happiness?   Happiness is part choice, part development and to some degree inherited qualities.   Choose to be happier.  Choose to develop your strengths and choose to develop deep and meaningful relationships and you will be happier.    Maybe you have a story about how you found happiness, what is it?


“How we perceive a situation and how we react to it is the basis of our stress. If you focus on the negative in any situation, you can expect high stress levels. However, if you try and see the good in the situation, your stress levels will greatly diminish.” Catherine Pulsifer

It’s a job, it’s barely a job and every morning getting the foot on the floor is more and more difficult.   It’s a life, it’s barely a life and every day it seems that the bills grow larger and larger.   It’s a relationship, it’s barely a relationship with more and more time spent in arguing about each other’s faults and failures.  It’s a diet, it’s barely a diet that works, that is helpful in losing weight.   It’s motivation, it barely the motivation that is needed to improve all the things that are going wrong in life.

There are many people looking for some sort of relief, a way to get through the day, to get through the moment and to feel like there is some purpose and meaning in life.    For many people it is a struggle to stay focused and get something done, there is no relief in their life, just the constant struggle to make it through the day.

What if there was a way to get relief but a way to get more out of life so that everyday is purpose filled and engaging?  What would it be like to feel alive everyday?  What would it be like?

In many cases it is the way we think about life that makes it a struggle.  The difference between an optimistic look at life and a pessimistic look at life is the difference between happiness and despair.     Relief comes when we start looking at life in a new way.

Here are three ways to find relief.

1. Meditate.   Studies show that meditation is reducing stress,  improving happiness and yielding better results in school.

2. Resilience.   People who are able to bounce back from unfortunate circumstances get relief faster.   Increasing positive to negative thoughts ratio increases resilience.

3. Mindfulness.  Focus on creating positive thoughts that break the cycle of negative thinking.

When we shift our mental picture of what is happening to us at any given time from negative to positive we enjoy greater relief.  Moving from worry to opportunity creates a sense of excitement and wonder in our lives.  Ingesting positive thoughts improves our mood and ability to bounce back from bad things in our life.

Where do you need relief?   What can you do today to generate positive thoughts?   What do you really want to be different in your life?

Relief is available to you when you meditate, bounce back and are mindful of what can be done rather than focusing on what has happened.   Relieve your mind of the burden of negative thinking and you will experience relief.

face the enemy within

“Keep my word positive. Words become my behaviors. Keep my behaviors positive. Behaviors become my habits. Keep my habits positive. Habits become my values. Keep my values positive. Values become my destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Good habits are hard to keep, bad habits are hard to lose.    Why is that?  Why is it so difficult to do what you don’t want to do and so hard to do what you do want to do?

Our habits stop us from being the person we could be.     It is easy to be tempted by “habit” to do something we know isn’t in our own best interest.   Take smokers for example.  Many of them would love to quit but they don’t feel they can.   There are people who would dearly love to quit drinking but don’t.

At some point it is as if our emotions are hijacking our lives.    Where do you feel like you’d love to make a change but your emotions say, “don’t do it”.   It is almost like saying if you help yourself you won’t be safe.   The amygdala (that small part of the brain that controls how we react) loves crying out, “Don’t change … don’t change”, because it is afraid of what might happen.   The “what if” is the fear is holding back the change that could be made when dealing with a destructive habit.   “What if I fail, then what do I do?” , well if you hear that often enough how inclined would you be to making the changes your want to make?  Most people aren’t very likely to make a change if they think it won’t stick or happen.

There are a lot of people working in a toxic environment and by toxic I mean environments that are disempowering, demeaning and have bullies managing the organization.   I am sure you have seen some bad environments in which to work.   While the pain of working there is high there is a thought that says, “Stay here because you don’t know what is out THERE”.   That is fear and habit that is holding you back from making a needed change.

Our lives are largely run by habit, a programmed set of rules that we live our lives by.     Think about the habits in your life.   Which ones have you tried to change and how successful were you at creating that change?

What is the enemy within?  It is the habit that still has a place in your life and one that isn’t making your life better.   What do you want to do about it?  What is it costing you to keep the bad habit?

“Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.”   Stephen R. Covey

it’s your questions

“In fact, the most effective approach is simply to ask questions. We can ignore directives, but questions force us to attend to them. In the corporate world, most of us are so used to being told what to do that when someone asks us what we think we should do, it stops our automatic processing in its tracks.

Rather than telling people, we should ask them, whether it’s deciding how to implement a strategy, setting objectives, or evaluating performance. The effect of a question may not be as stunning as glasses made out of burning cigarettes, but it will activate the brain and get it working the way we need it to.”    Psychology Today

Those two paragraphs that were printed in Psychology Today represent the new model of leadership.   In the past leadership was in many cases more of a request than a question.

Everyone today should be thinking about themselves as a leader and a person who asks questions.   Questions allow the receiver of the question to create (notice “create”) an answer in response.    The old way was “request” and “react” and the new way is “question” and “respond”.   Think about it, what makes you feel more empowered?   Is it a request or is it a question that you get to answer.

Think about questions in the workplace.  When do you feel empowered?   Do you feel empowered when you are “told” to do something or do you feel empowered when you are asked, “How could you solve this problem?”.  For most people it is the second approach, it is their idea, it is their solution and that is empowering.

Look at any organization that is not functioning at their full potential.  What do you hear?   Do you hear questions or requests?    More than likely you are hearing requests more than you are hearing questions.

New managers want to manage.   They are being asked “lead”  your team to success and immediately they are requesting rather than asking empowering questions.

Now, take this to your world, your sphere of influence, what does that look like to you.   Is it a world of questions or requests.   If it is requests see what you can do to change it to questions and see what happens.

“Questions focus our thinking. Ask empowering questions like: What’s good about this? What’s not perfect about it yet? What am I going to do next time? How can I do this and have fun doing it?”   Charles Connolly