Most people know a few people who are truly happy individuals. If you think of people in your life right now who exude joy, what characterizes their lives? More likely than not, they have bad days, just like everyone else. And yet, their happiness is resilient. They may feel sad for a while, but they are never knocked down for long. Unexpected bad news, changed plans, or surprise frustrates may throw them for a loop, but before long, they have landed on their feet with a smile on their face. Pharrell Williams describes them 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 do people capture such happiness? A simple Google search gives countless possibilities for how people might be happier: try these foods, sleep enough but not too much, have this many friends, and the list goes on and on and on. There is no question: people want more happiness in their lives, but is that possible? If it is, how?
Mental health professionals used to think that the happiness people felt was set at a fixed level. There may be times in their lives where they felt slightly happier or sadder, but inevitably, they returned to the same measure of happiness. However, new research shows that people have more control over their happiness than previously thought. Happiness can be cultivated and increased.
Many people are seeking out mental health counseling to increase their happiness. Professional therapists can help their clients separate emotional habits that increase happiness from the useless clickbait.
Negative Emotional Habits: Impeding Happiness
Often, external circumstances control how much happiness people feel. For example, do any of these circumstances sound familiar?
- When your favorite TV series ended, it threw your week out of kilter.
- You team won the championship. You have felt sky high all week.
- A coworker’s random, rude comment sent you spinning and brooding for hours.
- Your birthday is the best day of the year. The day after your birthday is the worst day of the year.
These scenarios and countless others all fit the equations: negative outcome=negative feelings. Positive outcome=positive feelings. Unfortunately, most people cannot control these outcomes that control their feelings.
Without a doubt, other people, life events, and difficult circumstances affect how people feel. However, they do not tell the whole story. There are more factors that affect happiness and that are within every person’s control.
Certain emotional habits may be inhibiting people’s joy. For many people, the first step toward a happier life is identifying the ways they are holding themselves back from happiness. Here are a few examples of ways people may be sabotaging their own happiness:
- Entitlement: Often times, the more proactive people are, often the happier they feel. If people wait for happiness to come to them, they may be waiting for a long time.
- Giving away Control: Everybody loves good news: promotions, vacations, long-lost friends are wonderful, but if they control people’s happiness, they have too much control. Instead, happy often find joy within themselves.
- Blame: When people blame, they rarely have energy left to problem-solve. Unaddressed often problems suck the joy out of life and grow more troublesome with time.
- Comparison: Finding happiness by comparing and contrasting to others often leads to resentment or superiority. Comparison is often a trap and hinders happiness.
Positive Emotional Habits: Increasing Happiness
In many ways, happiness is like a muscle. All muscles have a certain level of strength. With exercise and over time, any muscle can be strengthened. Similarly, certain emotional exercises may increase a person’s happiness. The key is knowing which produce long-term, sustainable happiness.
A mental health professional can help people identify which emotional habits they need to practice in order to boost their happiness, but a few may include…
- Practicing mindfulness – Paying attention to one’s own thoughts, feelings, and sensations, experiencing them without judgment is often a first step toward happiness.
- Promoting thankfulness – Taking time to talk about or write down a few things that people are grateful for can go a long way toward focusing their minds on what is beautiful, good, and kind in this world.
- Changing one’s mindset – Learning to reframe circumstances is an important life skill for cultivating happiness. There is opportunity in every circumstance if people are willing to see it.
- Setting a goal – Establishing reasonable, achievable goals in their personal and professional life can keep people anticipating and excited about the future.
While much of life is outside of people’s control, there is also much within their control that affect their happiness. When people learn to draw happiness from sources they can control and from within themselves, life can be a rollercoaster, but their happiness level will remain relatively steady.
Counseling for Increasing Happiness at Thriveworks Austin
Becoming a happier person is possible, and many people choose to journey toward a more joyful life with the help of a mental health professional. If you are ready for a happier life, Thriveworks Austin is ready to support and guide you. Our counselors have appointments available for increasing happiness.
If you call our office to schedule an appointment today, you may be meeting with your counselor tomorrow. We offer evening and weekend appointments. We accept most forms of insurances, and many new clients meet with their therapist within 24 hours of their first call.
Your happiness if our priority too. Call Thriveworks Austin today.