I talk about this a lot, but since we live in the society we do, I think it’s a topic that needs to be discussed more, until it becomes routine for us to think about it, as opposed to going out of our way to get it on our mind.
It’s about appreciation. And I don’t mean appreciation of the big things. That comes naturally, usually (and if it doesn’t, it might be due to some condition, such as depression). It makes sense to be happy when you get a promotion, when you graduate, or when you’re finally able to buy the car you’ve always wanted.
I am not talking about that kind of gratitude, but I am not saying we shouldn’t feel it. We should, of course!
The problem is this: big moments are few and far in between. No necessarily, but speaking from a general point of view, they are. But they’re obviously not the only kinds of moments we experience. We go through small ones, too, and I think those need a bit more loving thrown their way, especially since we experience so many small moments.
If we could learn to be thankful for those little things, we could bring more happiness into out lives, which is great news, isn’t it? Well, it’s all fun and games to talk about it, but once you try to implement it…that’s when the problems start arising.
We’re used to be in our own little worlds a bit too much nowadays, and this means that we no longer notice most of what goes on around us. But we should…Oh, we should.
A few days ago, for instance, I was walking to class, and I was in a hurry. Luckily, this didn’t stop me from seeing that there were flowers growing in a little spot, and that made me very happy (I do like both flowers and spring very much, hence the happiness).
This is just an example, and there are many more like it, that if you learn to look around you, you might just smile for longer, and feel better. It’s hard to do, no doubt, especially with all the available technology that we can use to distract yourselves. But it’s doable!
Have you had any moments in which you do something, and right the next second after you’ve done it, you want to slam your head against the nearest hard object? Then, for the next few moments, there’s something inside you saying “WHY? WHY?”. This doesn’t even have to be something terribly important, but it still doesn’t seem to dial down that frustration form the first few seconds.
They are things that are just so stupid, like, for instance, pressing “!” instead of “?”, and right after pressing the send button, so that your brain doesn’t even have the time to process the mistake. I’ve done it with letters, too. One time, for instance, I told my friend that I love to send nice “texys”, instead of “texts”.
If the mistake is of no serious consequence, the frustration is bound to go away very fast, and all that is left is the humor of the whole thing. But if the mistake leads to more important issues, then…well, that’s a problem.
But you see, our brains go on automatic quite often. This is crucial, because you don’t want to be spending important energy resources on things that are quite easy, especially when you don’t have that kind of energy. This, on most occasions, allows you to increase efficiency, while decreasing costs.
But, sometimes, one cost (ie, energy) is reduced, while other costs are increased (for instance, looking like an idiot in front of your boss). What do you usually do in such situations? If I can, I usually just admit to having made a mistake, and if there is a reason that I know of, I mention it. For instance, I’ll say “I apologize about that, I was in a rush”.
Usually, even the most awkward situations can be corrected 🙂
Today, I decided to look thorough some of the old photos that had been gathering on my USB.
It’s a strange feeling, really, to see a picture, and remember the exact moment you took it, everything that happened before it, and after it. It’s like a little story that unfolds before your mind’s eye. But it’s so much more than that, because having lived through it makes the story a thousand times more amazing. Not in the sense that it’s necessarily better. But it has more emotional value, and it’s in that emotional value that makes it somehow exceptional.
And it’s not even huge, important moments necessarily. Maybe it’s something as simple as a beautiful flower you saw. Or maybe it’s a picture of a gorgeous scenery, that was taken at a moment when you felt really peaceful. It doesn’t really matter, because you’re taken back there, and you relive those moments.
Or maybe…maybe you don’t remember what had happened when you took that picture. Perhaps you’re just looking at it, smiling because you have no clue what was so special about that moment that you thought it needed to be immortalized.
Because photos, and the story they carry with them can be so interesting, I decided to open up a new section on this blog, called PS, which here stands for Photo and Story. Hope you’ll enjoy it 🙂 .
The most important thing in life for many…actually, for most people is to be happy. This is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t go into a long explanation for the reason why. However, I will just say this: happiness is one of the things that make life worthwhile, so it is natural that we seek it.
In the post about Outliers, I mentioned that Gladwell presented having a meaningful job as a very important part of success. Yet, a meaningful job and its components are also important for overall happiness.
In this post I’ll try to unpack some of the other elements that go into happiness. I will leave genetics out of this article, however, because I prefer to concentrate on the things you can do to ensure that you’re going to be happy.
There was an entire article in Psychology Today devoted to unveiling happiness’ secrets, and you can read it by clicking here.
Embracing the Feeling of Uneasiness
The most fascinating idea in there was that people who are happy have a tendency to pursue activities and events that make them feel uncomfortable. In other words, they try to get out of their comfort-zones, and undergo experiences that make them feel somewhat uneasy.
But why? It feels so counter-intuitive at first sight that seeking out uncertainty and even a little bit of stress can turn out to award you with a feeling of blissfulness.
It seems that this whole mystery is simply connected to the fact that after you’ve undergone a new experience, you’re left with the feeling of accomplishment, which is what gives you happiness.
Experiencing Things that Make You Feel Good
There are experiences that you know will put you in a good mood. Examples include watching a good movie, reading your favorite book, or enjoying a good conversation with someone.
Wouldn’t those be a better choice? Well, it seems that the answer is both yes and no. The magic lies in finding the right balance between the two types of experiences. Sadly, there’s no easy way that will reveal the right combination or ratio between them. You have to go out there and practice until you’ve found the right mix.
Yeah, yeah, you’ve probably heard this before. Well guess what? It actually works! Studies have shown that individuals who take the time every day to think (or write down) the things they’re grateful for, tend to be happier. (Click here to read more about those studies).
This makes sense, because thinking of the good things in your life helps you appreciate them more. Plus, you’ve got the added benefit of having some moments in which you will put your negative thoughts aside, and replace them with happy, pleasant ones.
Investing in Others
This goes for both time and money. Meaningful relationships are crucial to us as humans, because we are designed to be social beings. We thrive when we’re around others; though those “others” must be people we actually like.
As for spending money, there’s research that shows that people who spent money on someone else were happier after than people who spent money on themselves. Click here to read more about this topic.
This is important for your well-being, but also for your happiness. When you relax, you push away the negative thoughts that are eating away at your mind.
Livin’ the Moment
There are so many benefits you can get from appreciating the moment you’re in. You’ll worry less, because worries come with thinking about the future, and you’re going to feel regret less, because regret usually appears when thinking of the past.
If you’d like to read more about this, click here to be taken to a post I made about enjoying the present.
To wrap up, I want to mention that above everything, happiness is something that is different for everybody. Each one of us may have their own list of things that make them happy, and I’d love to hear what are some of the items in that list for you! 🙂