10 Thoughts on Happiness

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“I just want my child to be happy.” That is the wish for most American parents. But if our children are to be this way, we must learn how to be happy ourselves. I watched a movie the other night where the main character’s daughter said she wanted him to be happy. When he told her that he was, she responded, “Trust me, Dad, you’re not happy.” They are watching us and can tell how we are doing.

So how are you doing on being happy? Find out the answer to this with our 10 thoughts on happiness.

1. Trying too hard

The pursuit of happiness can actually backfire, say experts at the University of Denver. People who place a high value on happiness have, on average, 17 more symptoms of depression than those who don’t. Instead, happiness is the byproduct of doing something worth doing well. Focus on that and happiness could very well follow.

2. Money

According to Dr. John Grohol, CEO and founder of Psych Central, people who spend their time and money on doing things together report higher levels of happiness than those who buy more stuff. This is because our memories keep an emotional photograph of the experience, whereas the material things don’t make as big an emotional imprint. Also, use your money and time in a lasting, meaningful way by helping others.

3. Musical inspiration

Studies have found that listening to music can lift your spirits and put you in a better mood. The genre makes no difference when it comes to how to be happy, as long as it is something that you enjoy. “For some people it’s Bach; for others, it’s heavy metal,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.

4. Be content with where you are

Find happiness in who you are, where you are, and the talents that God gave you.

According to Stanford psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, American culture is obsessed with climbing the ladder of success, but at what cost? Too often we get caught up unsatisfied with ourselves because we are comparing ourselves to others. This constant comparing is damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Find happiness in who you are, where you are, and the talents that God gave you.

5. Happiness is a choice

Internal factors play a larger role in how to be happy than external factors. Studies have shown that only 10% of happiness occurs because of external factors. Personal happiness relies more on internal factors such as attitude, relationships, and outlook on life. In fact, outlook on life determines at least 50% of a person’s happiness.

6. Thankfulness

People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals, according to author Robert Emmons. Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness and lower on depression – and the effect lasts for weeks.

7. Books are healthier than TV

Researchers at the University of Maryland have found that people who read books are happier than people who watch TV. This even goes for books with depressing plots. The logic makes sense, as reading a book is an active process and the person can really get involved, unlike TV.

8. The outdoors

For many, the key to how to be happy is found outdoors. In a University of Rochester study, 90 percent of subjects got a boost in energy and had their outlook brightened by spending time outdoors around trees, grass, and living creatures. Get outside and get some fresh air. Take a quick walk around the block to take in the outdoors. Every time you go outside, there’s something new to see; it’s never the same.

9. Laughter

Time Magazine records that, “People are 30 times more likely to laugh in groups than alone and, not surprisingly, laughter is associated with helping to develop person-to-person connections…” Laughter reduces certain stress hormones and strengthens your immune system. Laughter promotes better health and a sense of contentment. So try to fit some good clean television comedies into your day for a quick laugh.

10. We are designed for companionship

Close relationships with family, friends, and loved ones bring happiness say researchers like the father-son team Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. Take a look at really happy people; you will notice that they likely have supportive families, close friends, and strong relationships. Don’t go through life alone.