How to be happy is more than just keeping up with the Jones’

GLASS HALF FULL: Keep the smile alive.

HOW important is it to be happy? We all want health, many strive for wealth, but ultimately the elusive happiness is what drives us in the choices we make.

I would even go as far as to say that you probably came to this country, throwing caution to the wind, in search of a sunnier and happier life.

Happiness is of course not country-specific, or else we would find the whole of the world’s population on top of one another in one place; Canada, for example; or Norway, which both feature high on the list of the most contented countries on the planet.

But personally, I find it is so much easier to have a smile on my face when the sun warms the sky and not bundled up in 20 layers of clothing. 

One theory is that our happiness is relative to that of our neighbours’.  If the Jones’ next door suffice with a sturdy Skoda, you will feel royally smug lording it up in your Mercedes, but the moment they upgrade to a Ferrari, your bubble will burst.

Expectations are also said to have a bearing on our general cheer.  Achievable goals are important, but lofty aspirations of world domination are more likely to see you ending up on the shrink’s chaise longue than as Head of State. 

Since keeping up with the Jones’ is a tedious and tiresome pursuit, what else can we do to keep the smile alive?  Happiness, experts say, is mostly down to personality; in particular our thoughts and behaviour.  Difference in circumstances accounts for a mere 10 per cent of root causes once basic human needs are taken care of.

So, by trying to be happy and telling yourself that you are indeed happy, you can programme your mind to believe it. Back on the chaise longue, they call this cognitive-behavioural therapy, or seeing the proverbial glass as half full rather than half empty.

Starting each day with a life-affirming mantra and a smile is more likely to lead to a good day than a moan and assumption that all will go pear-shaped the moment you leave your front door.

Research also shows that people who consider themselves generally happy tend to devote more time to friends and family; they appreciate what they have and they live in the moment with an optimistic outlook.
Other catalysts for happiness are said to be trying something new.  Anything to bring about a change of mindset or meeting new people can help. Exercise is also a key blue-day buster, releasing the positive serotonin hormones to do their jolly work.

Other than that, a touch of altruism goes a long way. Buddhists believe we are all connected to the degree that if you harm someone you are in effect harming yourself, so do onto others as you would onto yourself and see the positive karma come back into your life.  Small acts of random kindness can make someone’s day that little bit happier, and probably yours too

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