I Just Want to be Happy

I Just Want to be Happy

Relate NI Development Manager, Kellie O’Dowd has written for World Wellness Week 2022. 

We have all heard or seen the quote ‘happiness is a journey and not a destination’ and just about everyone wants to be happy, so if it is something we strive so hard to attain, and if it is truly the end all and be all of life, then why does it elude so many?

There is a universal myth that we will be happy when we achieve (XYZ). ‘I’ll be happier when I lose weight’. ‘I’ll be happier when I get a better job’. ‘I’ll be happier when I have more money in the bank’. I’ll be happier when I get married;  the list goes on and on and on.

But if happiness is a journey, then surely it is all about thinking about happiness the right way – and finding ways to enjoy all the steps.

Happiness does not depend on achievements, goals, money, relationships or anything external. These things may provide a short-term rush of happiness followed by a quick return to normal, which then can actually feel like an anti-climax, and then we begin the search externally for the next big happy rush. For many, this becomes the cycle of their life.

Recent research has shown that we each have a happiness set point, which is based 50 percent on genetics; 10 percent on circumstance; and 40 percent on intentional activity, such as habits, thoughts and behaviour. Your happiness depends on many things, like genetics and life experiences – but as much as 40% is in your control. The way you imagine happiness can have a big impact on just how happy you are.

The science of epigenetics (how behaviours and environments can impact on how our genes work) teaches that we have more control than originally thought over our genes, that they can be influenced by changing our habits. So when you factor in the genetic component, up to 90 percent of our set point can be influenced by our habits. That gives us tremendous power over the way we feel.

People who are truly happy have an inner state of peace and well being that doesn’t depend on their circumstance. They have different habits, and we can learn and practice these happiness habits.

Here are a four ways we can make change that lasts:

Don’t believe everything you think. The brain is wired to pay more attention to whatever it perceives as threatening to survival rather than what is pleasurable. So  out of our 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day, approximately 80 percent are negative. Our patterns of thought ultimately determine how happy we are in life. Become mindful of them and make sure they serve you well.

Experts say it takes 20 seconds for a positive experience to stick long enough to create a new neuro pathway in the brain, much longer than it take for a negative experience to stick. Spend time enjoying the little things; eventually they will make a big difference. This could be as simple as the smell of a fresh cup of coffee, the sun on your face, or the wind blowing in a tree. Focus your attention on the little things that make you happy.

Practice gratitude. Be grateful for what is working. We get more of what we focus on, so focus on what works. Look for the tiny things usually taken for granted and feel appreciation for them. Write at least five things you are thankful for down daily in a gratitude journal.

Forgive others. We cannot be happy when holding on to anger and resentment. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. Release the pain and as they say in the film Frozen – ‘let it go’! Just as everything worth having in life is hard work; so is happiness, but the benefits you will reap will be insurmountable.

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“How Relate NI helps people”

“I found the Relationship MOT an excellent method of focusing on we work as a couple and just as importantly, where we need to work. It was professional, insightful and well worth the time. It has reminded us of how much we have to be proud of in our relationship and why it is so important to occasionally review it with experts.”Service Attended Relationship MOT
“I would definitely recommend using the Relationship MOT service as a bit of a check in with your partner. I thought how the counsellor was able to steer the conversation was very insightful and nuanced. The MOT reminded us about why we are great together but also the importance of communication and respect.” “Our counsellor provided an outside perspective which immediately helped us to agree that we needed to stop and think with more kindness and empathy for each other especially when stressed or pissed off. We both felt that our counsellor’s excellent and gentle facilitation was quite invigorating. So many positives!”Service Attended Relationship MOT 2
Very Interesting Content. I like the concept of preparing your relationship before you have problemsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 4
The face to face programme has made me feel connected with others experiencing similar thingsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 3
The workshops made me more confident to balance family life after the baby's arrivalService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 2
I now have a better understanding of myself, it is good to know that it is normal to have argumentsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 1
I felt the weekly questionnaire, couples with the counsellor's understanding of my needs help contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughout.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
I loved every session. Our counsellor listened to what we had to say and gave us helpful wee homework - would recommend this service to everybodyService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
Our counsellor was a fantastic support - we now feel strong enough to continue working on our relationship togetherService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
I had a very good counsellor that helped me through a lot and it has made me come out the other side.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
Counselling took us from a bad place to a good one and I would return if neededService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
Been a lifeline to help us fall in love again - forever grateful!Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I would just like to say that when I first came for counselling I felt that I was drowning.  I have completed my sessions and I now feel that I can cope a lot better with everything.  Thank you for a brilliant service.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
Thank you Relate NI for a good nights sleep.Service Attended Relate NI Kids Counselling
Really enjoyed Relate NI and I'm actually going to miss counselling.  I Found it helpful to find myself again. Very fair and equal within our relationship.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I appreciated the straightforward, helpful and informed observations about situations. It really helped me cope during Christmas which is a difficult time for usService Attended Family Counselling
The counsellor was very pleasant to meet with.  They had the necessary skills to speak and listen when appropriate.  I liked their humour and good personality.Service Attended Family Counselling
Relate NI has helped me move on as well as understand myself and situation more.  My counsellor listened to me, facilitated me and was compassionate!Service Attended Relate NI Teen Counselling
I felt the weekly questionnaire, coupled with counsellor's understanding of my needs helped contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughoutService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
We had four funded sessions and cannot express how grateful we are for the help, guidance and knowledge. Our counsellor was incredibly professional, and her experience and obvious passion for helping couples like us was exceptional. She helped us to understand ourselves and each other like we otherwise never would have been able to.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I have tried counselling many times in the past. This time actually made a difference. I was able to complete online sessions as well as some face to face.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals

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