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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Very Interesting Content. I like the concept of preparing your relationship before you have problemsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 4
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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
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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
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