As a Psychologist, over the years I have had hundreds of women come to see me because they don’t feel happy. This is despite trying almost anything, from a new fitness fad, drinking less or getting back into the dating scene. Their efforts have not resulted in the expected outcome.
The pressure to ‘be happy’ has grown over the years. On one hand, this makes sense because feeling good is associated with well-reported and indisputable health benefits. On the other, the quest for happiness has left many people feeling worse off.
What many people don’t know is that striving to be happy may actually be the one thing that makes you really unhappy.
Research by Ken Sheldon on goals, motivation and wellbeing, found the only way to achieve happiness is for happiness not to be the goal. His research suggests we should be pursuing the goal of being our best self. This is because when we chase experiences that help us grow, as well as doing things that we are passionate about, happiness (and a whole range of other positive emotions) are achieved as a by-product of our striving towards something that matters to us.
This makes perfect sense, if you think about the last time you felt ‘happy’ it was most likely the result of an experience you were in. Maybe you were with friends, family or loved ones, perhaps you were doing an activity or sport you enjoyed, or maybe you were working on or something that matters to you. Either way, we experience happiness not by looking for it, but by shifting our focus to better understand ourselves, and then engaging in activities and experiences that allow us to be the best version of ourselves. By choosing to do things that promote our wellbeing, we feel happy as a result.
Next time you start to feel a little low and are in need of a happiness boost, try to shift the focus away from things that you think will make you happy, to towards things that you think will improve your wellbeing and help you grow.
5 ways to be your best self every single day and feel good
- Find time each day to spent 10 minutes in mindful practice
This means taking time to sit, be still and focus on your breath and senses. Let your thoughts come and go without judgement. You can do this walking, sitting at your desk or lying in bed. This experience trains your brain towards focused attention allow you to feel better as a result.
- Write down 3 goals you are working towards for your own self and are important to you
Maybe are you finishing a degree, trying to progress your career, saving for a house or a trip, trying to exercise more Each day, find time to work towards at least one of these goals.
- Show your gratitude to someone that you are thankful for
Whether it be a parent, partner, friend or colleague showing gratitude for someone we are truly thankful for, is one sure what to boost our wellbeing and that of the receiver.
- Start moving and take a walk
Take time to give yourself at least a 20-minute walk every day. Moving your body gets your blood pumping and releases endorphins, which will boost your positive emotions and decrease negative ones.
- Write down 3 good things every single day that happen to you
Simply by training our brain to pay attention to the good things we will feel better as a result.
Next time you are looking to improve how you feel, don’t try to be happy. Instead invest in some of these strategies to help you live your best life and as a result embrace the positivity that will follow.