Daily, it seems as if there are news reports of the latest crisis or tragedy, and those do not even recount the personal challenges people face. Life is chaotic and crazy, and no one is exempt. And yet, somehow certain people weather the storm with a smile. These people do not live in a bubble. They face bad news, surprise diagnoses, financial strain, and more—just like everyone else. They are the people Pharrell describes in his song, “Happy,”
Here come bad news talking this and that
Yeah, give me all you got, don’t hold back
Yeah, well I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine
Yeah, no offense to you don’t waste your time
Here’s why: Because I’m happy…
How can people be happy despite difficult life circumstances? Blogs and podcasts make countless promises: Try power poses. Increase sleep. Avoid these foods. Do not have too many friends. The advice goes on and on, but is it possible to create more happiness in life?
Yes, being a happier person is possible. New research has shown that emotional strength (that is, resilient happiness) is quite similar to physical strength. Every person has a unique muscle tone and strength level, but every person can also improve. Similarly, every person has a fairly stable level of happiness they experience, but everyone can build up their emotional strength. The big question is how? Many people are working with a mental health professional to help them distinguish between beneficial emotional workouts and online clickbait.
Thriveworks Charlotte provides increasing happiness help for our clients who are ready to take on an emotional workout and build up their resilient happiness.
Happy Feelings and Control
A lot of people have intertwined the happiness they feel with people and circumstances that are not within their influence or control. For example, can you relate to any of these scenarios?
- Your team pulled out a big victory, so your whole week has been awesome.
- A random text from an ex- puts a damper on a fun evening with friends.
Most likely, you can, and you are not alone. Any number of scenarios could have become examples, but they all follow the same formulas: favorable circumstances=happiness, unfavorable circumstances=negative feelings. The foundational principle is control: who and what are in control of the joy in a person’s life?
Without a doubt, circumstances and people contribute to happiness, but how much of a contribution varies. Some people give them the lead role while other people relegate them. In general, people who draw their happiness from themselves—their own values and actions, experience a more stable, resilient happiness. How do these happy people exhibit so much control over their own happiness? They combat the negative emotional patterns in their lives and encourage positive emotional patterns.
Combating Negative Emotional Patterns
Certain emotional patterns inhibit people’s happiness, and these patterns are within each person’s influence. There are many ways that people undercut joy in their lives. A few examples include:
- Entitlement: Feeling as if happiness is deserved instead of earned or feeling as if joy will simply appear means that people are passive about their emotional state. In contrast, happy people often actively pursue joy.
- Blame: Shifting responsibility toward other people instead of problem solving leaves little room for working through difficulties and moving forward. Unresolved problems can stagnate happiness.
- Comparison: Scanning to see what other people are doing, feeling, buying, and thinking is a trap that leads to feelings of superiority or inferiority—not happiness.
Encouraging Positive Emotional Patterns
With old patterns gone, new ones can form. Certain mental habits create a positive environment where happiness can grow. These exercises may be difficult at first, but just like physical strength grows with time, so does emotional strength. Mental health professionals can guide people toward the exercises that work best for them, but a few examples include:
- Setting a goal – Having an achievable goal in both their professional and personal lives often means people’s days have focus, excitement, and clarity. When benchmarks are reached, people also experience reward and accomplishment.
- Changing one’s mindset – There is opportunity everywhere—even in loss, pain, and challenge. When people are open to new information, interpretations, and possibilities, they can change their mindset and often change their emotional status as well.
- Practicing mindfulness – Be in the moment and notice every thought, every feeling, and every sensation. Simply paying attention to what is happening will build up people’s self-awareness, a key element of happiness.
- Promoting thankfulness – Saying, “thank you,” or writing down something for which they are grateful, means that people are noticing what is beautiful and kind in the world along with what is difficult. The more gratitude people practice, the more they focus their attention upon the good.
So much of life is out of people’s control, but when it comes to being happier, little changes can make big differences. As people learn to build their happiness upon their own internal strength, their happiness will grow resilient. Of course, they will always feel sad or frustrated at times, but overall, their joy may remain stable.
Help for Increasing Happiness at Thriveworks Charlotte
If you want help becoming a happier person, Thriveworks Charlotte is ready. We have appointments available for increasing happiness.
When you call our office, know that you might be meeting with you therapist the following day. Many new clients have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. We do not have a waitlist, but we do have evening and weekend sessions.
Your happiness matters. Contact Thriveworks Charlotte today.