Everyone wants to be happy. One of the three inalienable rights stated in the US constitution is the pursuit of happiness. We all want to be happy, yet more people than ever are sad. What is going on? Wasn’t capitalism supposed to help us pursue happiness?
People pursue pleasure and things which titillate their senses, yet research has found that pursuing pleasure doesn’t lead to any long-lasting fulfillment or happiness. If you are already fulfilled by being involved in something meaningful and engaging in your life, this can be a nice extra touch of sweetness to your life. However, if it is the primary path you take to find happiness, you will soon notice it is more of a bottomless void that will require you to keep feeding it hedonistic pleasures.
So what do truly happy people embody and do that makes them so fulfilled and exuberant? Here are some qualities they possess:
Most of the time, our minds are focused on either something in the past or future. We find it difficult to just be. However, if you want to be happy, you need to be present in this now moment. After all, this is the only moment that ever exists. Give your mind a rest and enjoy the bliss that pure present awareness has to offer you. If you’ve been in your head for a long time, you may find it difficult at first, but eventually, it becomes easier. You can make it easier on yourself by going somewhere like a park, sitting down, and observing the beauty and interesting things occurring.
Smiling releases serotonin, which is the happy molecule. It can be difficult to force yourself to smile when you aren’t in that good of a mood (and may actually make things worse), but what you can do is think of something that brings you joy and then smile about it. As long as your smile is genuine, you will get that serotonin boost. Pretty soon, you will smile out of habit because you will be using neural pathways that lead you to positive thoughts more, thereby reinforcing happiness.
Grateful and Appreciative
Gratitude and appreciation remind you of all the things in your life that you can be happy about. Starting off with being able to breathe and working your way up to more specific reasons to be grateful and appreciative helps people be truly happy. Using a gratitude journal or practicing a gratitude meditation helps happy people avoid the feeling of lack. If they ever begin to feel like there is something lacking in their lives, which can lead to negative thoughts and emotions, they flip it around to look at something that they can be grateful for instead.
Spending Time in Nature
The lead author of studies done on the effects of spending time in nature on mood, Richard Ryan, said that, “Nature is fuel for the soul.” Spending just 20 minutes a day outside in nature can cheer you up. On an energetic level, taking a walk through a dense or old forest can expand your energy field significantly in no time. Think of nature like a charging station. After all, the Earth is where we come from and when we are disconnected, because we separate ourselves all day and night indoors, it takes a toll on our mental health. If you want to be happy, make sure you spend at least a little bit of time outside every day you can. Even better, get some sun while you’re out there, since it helps your body produce more serotonin.
“I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health.” By saying this, French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire expressed how being truly happy is a choice we can make. It involves more than you telling yourself to be happy. You need to make some changes in what you do, how you engage with others, and how you think. These four qualities of truly happy people are just a starting point, but they can really help you become a more fulfilled and happy person.