We all want to be happy. We each have our own strategies in our pursuit of happiness. Sometimes we have a sense of success in that pursuit and at other times, happiness eludes us.
But what is happiness? What qualities constitute this quality of being and how have our strategies and pursuits cultivated happiness or how have they escaped our grasps. Looking at the research certainly points in a direction that we can train our minds to be happy and there’s benefit to our health---body, mind, and spirit.
In his book, Flourish, Researcher Martin Seligman (father of Positive Psychology) details the well-established studies that conclude the Optimist (happy people) have less heart disease, lower cancer rates, less inflammation, and fewer colds and flus.
In his early research on happiness, he posited that positive emotions, engagement, and pursuit of positive relationships were the cornerstones to authentic happiness. In his new book, Flourish, he established that meaning and achievement are also necessary elements that contribute to well-being.
In the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity, when we cultivate positive emotions through volition, we create wiring in our brains that produce a neurochemistry that makes us feel good. It’s as simple as imagining what makes you feel good and holding that state of mind for 20-30 seconds. In that time, neurons are firing and wiring together. Create this for yourself daily and often throughout your day.
Engagement is the commonly used phrase of “being in the zone”. What endeavors create this experience for you? Take time to become aware of the activities, work, enjoyments you do that put you in the zone. Again, having a daily practice of engagement is cultivating happiness.
We all want positive relationships. We know what it feels like to be around people that uplift our spirits and inversely, those that bring us down. In my upcoming blog series, I will be discussing the science of this connection. It is crucial to our health and well-being that we surround ourselves with the positive relationships and limit any negative ones.
Optimism, well-being, and happiness are a state of mind that needs to be cultivated. We practice every moment of our lives which state of mind our nervous system lends itself to. Is your life showing evidence of happiness? If not, then begin practicing and cultivating that state of mind. As you do, your neurobiology changes and it becomes easier and easier to access that state and live a happier life. It’s up to you……Choose Happiness!