4 Simple But Powerful Ways to Increase Your Everyday Happiness and Life Satisfaction

HJ: Happiness has been decoded.  We know what produces it in spades. The only thing left to do is adopt the principles that lead to happiness.  To do the things that remove any barriers and obstacles to experiencing it in our day to day life.  The hard part, however, is undoing the patterns and habits we have.  But even that can be easy if someone is ready and willing to change.  It’s only hard for people who say they want it but are not willing to make any changes to get it.  Like anything in life, it’s what you make of it.  But regardless of whether you want to go slow or fast in realigning yourself with these and other foundational principles, alas, here they are for your knowledge and integration.

– Truth

Four Surprising Principles To Secure Happiness

We all want to be happy. So why don’t people do what it takes to get there?

By Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP | Psychology Today | Thomas Plante

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Of course we all want to be happy. Who doesn’t? But what most people fail to realize is that their attempts to secure happiness is typically fraught with disappointment and failure. They too often chase this elusive state of being in misguided directions that are likely to ultimately fail them. Additionally, they also tend to ignore quality research that highlights the dos and don’ts of happiness. Certainly much has been written on this topic in both the popular and academic presses. As I review this work as well as reflect on treating patients in my clinical practice for the past 3 decades, I tend to think that the following 4 principles should always be kept in mind in our efforts to secure happiness.

1. Forget about obtaining happiness and aim for life satisfaction

An exalted state of happiness is challenging to obtain and just about impossible to sustain. Certainly both minor and major life events give us moments of happiness and joy but then we quickly return to our baseline levels of happiness or unhappiness (which has a biological as well as psychosocial basis). Rather than searching to maintain an ongoing state of happiness or bliss trying to aim for life satisfaction is more realistic and sustainable. So, focusing on satisfaction is a better goal than searching for happiness.

2. Money might rent happiness but it won’t buy it

Sure, having financial and other resources can provide lives and lifestyles that are comfortable and enjoyable but way too many people believe that money buys happiness. It just doesn’t! Both research and clinical practice has well demonstrated this fact over and over again. We are reminded of this insight when we frequently hear about the great distress, major life troubles, and even suicidal behaviors of the rich, famous, and powerful in society. Many of the celebrities who seem to have more money than God find themselves deeply unhappy and suffer from drug addiction, bitter divorces, out of control children, and tragically self-destructive behaviors such as suicide. Research from multiple sources and in multiple international locations has clearly shown that after securing basic needs like food and shelter there is surprisingly little relationship between happiness and money.

3. Relationships matter

It is sad to see that many people spend so much of their time and energy chasing after money (and status) that they neglect their significant relationships with family, friends, and others. I see this over and over here in Silicon Valley where too often people work so hard that they are neglectful of their spouses, children, and other important relationships. Few people on their death beds say that they wished they spent more time at the office (or securing a bigger bank account). Rather, they tend to focus on key relationships. Relationships matter…so act accordingly!

4. Happiness and life satisfaction is often secured when you aren’t the center of the universe

We certainly live in a “me first” and narcissistic culture. The focus on me is assumed to result in more happiness. It doesn’t! Surprisingly, people find more happiness and satisfaction when they put themselves in the background and put others in the foreground. Focusing on the welfare of others and getting the focus off ourselves often gives people great, and unexpected, joy. I have heard this time and time again from my patients. They so often find themselves more satisfied and happy when they focus less on themselves and more on others. This is true of college students too. And there is empirical data to demonstrate this conclusion as well (see below for a few of our studies on this topic).

We all want to live a satisfied and happy life. While we can’t control all of the variables we can use good quality science and best practices to maximize the odds that we will have a happier and more satisfied life. Surprisingly, focusing on relationships and others rather than money and status is likely to help you achieve your happiness and life satisfaction goals. Why not give it a try?

Check out my web site at www.scu.edu/tplante and follow me on twitter@ThomasPlante