Learning to be Happy
Education systems are designed to impart all the knowledge a child needs as they grow up and become young adults. We learn to count, read, write, play with other children, speak different languages and even study home economics where we acquire basic cooking and household skills. But when do we learn to be happy? More to the point, can we learn to be happy? The simple answer is yes. For a society which places so much emphasis on the importance of happiness, we spend very little time actually considering what happiness means and how we can live our lives in a way which results in happiness? To be happy is a learned skill but the majority of us don’t take the time to learn it. Well, maybe this article will change that for you.
The key to learning how to be happy is to stop putting yourself in the centre of everything. Sure, it’s your life, but don’t live it only to please yourself because, inevitably, you will fail. Time and again, studies show that people who give their time, energy and even resources to others are happier. Being selfish may mean you have a bulging bank account and the dream job you worked so hard to achieve. From the outside, your life might look perfect. But this lifestyle comes at a price. A self-centred approach to life blinkers you to those around you and you’ll end up stepping onto or over people on your way to the top. Placing yourself in the centre of your own universe only allows you to fulfil the material aims in life. When it comes to learning to be happy, you need to open your eyes a little wider and take in those around you.
I don’t need to write again about how doing good for others makes us happier. That’s the subject of half of the blogs on this site. But it doesn’t make it any less true. We’ve all felt that warm, fuzzy feeling when we’ve done something kind for someone else and they’ve been grateful. Acts of kindness, random or planned, and generally doing good in our lives come from a positive attitude towards the world around us which will increase our happiness levels. While this may not be explicitly taught in schools, I would like to think most parents and teachers try to foster a similar attitude in their young charges.
A recent buzzword which has been increasingly used the happiness community is ‘mindfulness’. In many ways, improving your own mindfulness can be seen as a way to learn to be happy. Mindfulness encourages you to connect on a deeper level to what you are thinking, feeling and experiencing. It is a way of addressing emotions and thoughts head on without hiding away or denying our feelings. Being honest with yourself and accepting of how you feel goes a long way towards achieving personal happiness. But beyond this, you should then take this practice and turn it to the wider world. Mindful people are more thoughtful in their approach to life and interactions with others. They are often more open to opportunities, curious and patient (that oh so elusive virtue). Again, schools don’t have mindfulness lessons but there is an increasing awareness of the importance of talking about feelings and being open when it comes to complex emotions. Mindfulness may not be on the curriculum but it is a skill we can all learn and, through that process, you may just learn how to be happy too.
Finally, there are times in our lives during which we should embrace the sadness. While we at More Good Deeds may promote happiness and encourage you to learn how to make yourself happier, that doesn’t mean you have to smile all the time. Life is hard and there are times in our lives when we will feel sad, scared, uncertain, hurt and so much more. We’re not saying you should ignore those emotions. Far from it, in fact. Embrace them; accept them as part of who you are, as part of a natural reaction to whatever it is that you are experiencing. But don’t allow them to consume you indefinitely. It’s ok to wallow in sadness for a while, provided you are able to pull yourself up and learn to be happy again as time heals you.
Every one of us is different and we all have different things which make us happy. But beyond our personal differences, we are united by a common bond. We all want to be happier and I’d like to bet that increasing the number of random good deeds you do could be a great way to get started. Remember to record them in our More Good Deeds app to inspire others as well.
Go. Do. Experience. More Good Deeds.