What exactly do we mean as happiness?

Happiness is not about being happy all the time, that would be unrealistic.  We all experience sadness at some point in our lives but we can still lead a happy life.

Happiness has both short term and long term aspects.  Short term in the day-to-day experience of positive emotions like joy, amusement and love.  But is goes deeper than that and includes an overall sense that is fulfilling, meaningful and going well.

What good things have happened to me in the past week?

The first task of the evening was to write down some good things that have happened to us.  My list included:

  • Seeing my psychiatrist and getting my medication adjusted
  • The sun shining and all the beautiful weather
  • Spending time with my daughter playing games
  • Spending less time on social media and more time in the real world.
  • Cooking some nice food.

What actually makes us happy?

Modern society bombards us with messages about what makes for a good life.  We’re told that happiness comes from having more and earning more and that we need the latest gadgets to be happy.

However as we’ve become more materialistic the rates of mental health issues have risen.

Three essentials for happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.

-Joseph Addison

In our small groups we then came up with what actually makes people happy.

Our list included::

  • Love
  • Spending time with people
  • Making happy memories
  • Learning
  • Expanding your mind
  • Helping others
  • Feeling appreciated

Expert view – Ed Diener

Like last week we had an expert view shown to us in the form of a video clip.  That video can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/71507770 and it was by Ed Diener a Professor of Psychology who has spent 25 years studying human happiness.

My notes from the talk:

  • Our relationship with other people are fundamental for our happiness
  • The happiest people have work, hobbies or activities in their lives that they love and make use of their strengths
  • Happy people find positive ways to move forwards in hard times
  • The happiest countries have high levels of trust and strong social connections
  • Happiness comes from having goals and values that are bigger than ourselves
  • Marriage isn’t essential for happiness
  • Children aren’t essential for happiness
  • Learning new things can contribute to happiness
  • Green space is important
  • Spirituality just means things bigger than you.
  • Our happiness is not set in stone
  • There are skills we can learn to be happier

Ten Keys to Happier Living

The evidence suggests these ten things are all areas that affect out happiness and are broadly within our control.  GREAT DREAM

  1. G – Giving: do things for others
  2. R – Relating: connect with other people
  3. E – Exercising
  4. A – Awareness: mindfulness
  5. T – Trying Out: keep learning new things
  6. D – Direction: have goals
  7. R – Resilience: find ways to bounce back
  8. E – Emotions: look for what’s good
  9. A – Acceptance – be comfortable with who you are
  10. M – Meaning – be part of something bigger

Happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something w don’t have, but rather recognising and appreciating what we do have.

-Frederick Keonig

Next, we were asked to write down when we were happy.  My list included:

  • Birth of my daughter
  • London Marathon
  • A Level results day
  • Walking to a local landmark with my daughter
  • Doing roller disco with my daughter
  • Spending time in the USA with my partner.

This made me realise how important other people are to my happiness.  I am far happier when I’m with people I love and spending so much time alone during the week isn’t good for me.