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Secrets Of Happy Life Essay

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en españolCómo lograr una vida feliz

We all want to be happy. But we sometimes think of happiness as a thing that happens to us — something we have no control over. It's easy to link the idea of happiness with the situation we're in. We might tell ourselves, "If only things were different, then I'd be happy."

But that's not really how happiness works. Research shows that just a small portion of happiness (only about 10%) depends on a person's situation. So where does most of our happiness come from?

Born Happy?

Part of happiness depends on personality. Some people have a naturally happy nature. We all know people who are cheerful and optimistic most of the time. Their upbeat personalities make it easier for them to be happy.

So what does that mean for people who are born with a personality that's on the grumpy side? They might see the faults in people and situations instead of the good. Their mood might be glum more often than it's cheerful. But if they'd like to be happier (and who wouldn't?), it is possible to get there.

Happiness Is Up to Us

Researchers have found that more than half of happiness depends on things that are actually under our control. That's really good news because it means everyone can be happier.

A big part of how happy we are depends on our mindset, the habits we practice, and the way we live each day. By learning the key ingredients of happiness, we can use them to become happier.

Why Happiness Matters

Happiness is more than a good feeling or a yellow smiley face. It's the feeling of truly enjoying your life, and the desire to make the very best of it. Happiness is the "secret sauce" that can help us be and do our best.

Here's what researchers found when they studied happy people:

  • Happy people are more successful.
  • Happy people are better at reaching goals.
  • Happy people are healthier.
  • Happy people live longer.
  • Happy people have better relationships.
  • Happy people learn better.

Ingredients for a Happy Life

Happiness is so important in our lives that it has it's own field of research called positive psychology. Experts in this field have found that there are key things that make people happier:

Positive Emotions

Joy. Gratitude. Love. Amazement. Delight. Playfulness. Humor. Inspiration. Compassion. Hope. Creativity. Interest. Excitement. Enjoyment. Calm. We all like to have these positive feelings.

Besides feeling good, positive emotions do good things for our brains and bodies. They lower stress hormones, help ease anxiety and depression, and improve our immune system.

Feeling some positive emotions every day has a big effect on our happiness and well-being. That's why it's so important to do things that give us positive feelings. Even simple actions like playing with a child or a pet or going for a walk outdoors can inspire these feelings.

Knowing how to manage our negative emotions is also key to happiness. Difficult emotions are a fact of life. But the way we handle them makes all the difference.

Strengths and Interests

The things we're good at, and like to do, are our strengths. We all have strengths, even if we haven't discovered them yet.

Strengths include:

  • the things we're interested in — for example, music, art, science, building things, cooking, reading
  • any skills we have — like painting, playing an instrument, or playing a sport
  • our good qualities — such as kindness, humor, or leadership

Happiness increases when we discover a strength and practice it. The more we practice a strength, the better we get until we really master it.

When we get really good at doing something we enjoy, we can get lost in it. That's called flow. Experiencing flow helps boost happiness. Finding daily ways to use our strengths is a key ingredient for a happy life.

Good Relationships

The people in our lives matter. Good relationships are one of the best ways to enjoy happiness, health, and well-being.

Developing certain emotional skills can help us form and keep good relationships. When we are there for the people in our lives — and when they're there for us — we are more resilient, resourceful, and successful.

Here are some of the skills that help us build good relationships:

Finding Meaning and Purpose in Life

Our lives can be busy with day-to-day activities and responsibilities. Many of us multi-task, so we might race ahead, thinking about the next place we need to be. But slowing down to pay attention to what we're doing and why builds happiness.

Pay attention to the effects of your actions. Notice the ways (big or small) that you make a difference. Live life based on the values that are important to you. Take time to think of what really matters to you (like helping others or protecting the planet).

In what way do you want to make the world a better place? Notice any small daily actions that point you in that direction. They help give your life a sense of meaning and increase happiness.

Achievement

When our lives are rich with positive emotions, great relationships, strengths to practice, and a sense of purpose, we are ready to accomplish things.

Setting and achieving goals gives us something to put our energy into. It lets us see how we make a difference.

Put effort into things that matter to you. Do your best at whatever you try, without a need to be perfect. If things don't work out at first, keep an optimistic mindset and try again. Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Set realistic goals and small action steps to turn dreams into realities. To make a success even sweeter, celebrate it with people you care about.

Get Happier

OK, so you can learn how to be happier by managing your mindset, calming your mind, becoming more confident, using your strengths, building your self-esteem, doing things you enjoy, and creating good relationships. That's a lot of things to think about! You can't tackle them all at once. But you can start small and pick one thing to work on.

The best way to reach any goal is to begin with small, specific actions. After doing these for a while, they become habits — things that fit into your day without you thinking about them too much. That's when you move on to build a new daily habit. Achieving small, specific goals can add up to big happiness!

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy

There are many ways for people to be unhappy, but happy people have common characteristics. That’s why a good way to be happy is to learn the common characteristics of happy people and apply them.

So I studied what the great minds in history say about being happy. I went through hundreds of quotes on being happy and extracted the best lessons out of them. Not only are these lessons useful, they are also timeless in nature.

Here I’d like to share what I learned with you. Without further ado, here are 17 timeless secrets of happy people:

1. Forget the past

One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.
Rita Mae Brown

You won’t be happy if you carry the burden of the past. Did you make mistakes? Did you have terrible experiences? Whatever they are, you should let them go. There’s nothing you can do about the past, so you’d better let them go and focus your energy on the present.

2. Take responsibility for your life

The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage.
Thucydides

To be happy you should have freedom and the most essential freedom is the freedom to choose. No matter how bad a situation is, you can always choose how you respond to it. People can annoy you, but it’s up to you whether or not you will resent.

But, as the quote above says, freedom takes courage. Freedom to choose requires the courage to take responsibility for your life. You shouldn’t blame someone else when something goes wrong. Take the responsibility and you have the power to choose.

3. Build relationships

Life’s truest happiness is found in friendships we make along the way.
Unknown

Relationships is where we can get true happiness in life. The reason is simple: only through relationships can we love and be loved. Make relationships your top priority and you are on your way to true happiness.

4. Develop multiple passions

The more passions and desires one has, the more ways one has of being happy.
Charlotte-Catherine

Passions lead you to happiness. So not only should you discover your multiple passions, you should also expand yourself to new passions. This way you will create new ways to happiness.

The key to expanding to new passions is curiosity. If you are curious, you will have an endless stream of exciting things waiting for you.

5. Build your character

Character is the basis of happiness and happiness the sanction of character.
George Santayana

Building your character is essential for happiness. When you are true to yourself and others, you will be in peace.

The way to start building character is by making promises and keeping them. For example, you make promise to yourself that you won’t smoke. When you keep it, you are building your character. Or you make promise to others to be punctual. When you keep it, you build your character.

6. Be who you are

The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.
Desiderius Erasmus

You can only be happy if you become who you are. Don’t live other people’s life by trying to meet their expectations. People may expect you to have certain job or certain way of living but don’t be intimidated by them. Find who you are and be yourself.

7. Live your life purpose

The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.
William Cowper

To have a fulfilling life, you should find your life purpose and follow it faithfully. Find what matters to you and build the courage to follow it. Having a one-liner will help you internalize and communicate your mission.

8. Count your blessings

Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.
Unknown

Being happy is easy if we are grateful. Unfortunately, seeing what we don’t have is often easier than seeing what we have. Sometimes we need to experience loss before appreciating what we have. So don’t take things for granted. Look at what you have and soon you will have plenty of reasons to be happy. You may start with these simple things.

9. Have positive mind

It is not the place, nor the condition, but the mind alone that can make anyone happy or miserable.
Roger L’Estrange

Happy people know how to control their mind. They don’t let negative thoughts come in. While a situation may seem bad to others, happy people look at them in a positive way. They always believe that no matter how bad a situation seems, there is always something positive to take from it. Your mind can make or break you, so guard it well.

10. Work creatively

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

When you work creatively on something you will find happiness. There is a well-known phenomenon regarding this called flow. When you are in the state of flow, you are fully focused on the task at hand that you no longer realize the passage of time. This state of flow allows you to achieve high productivity and being happy at the same time. Here are some tips to achieve it.

11. Start with what you have

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.
James Oppenheim

Happy people don’t need something they don’t have to be happy. They don’t need certain job or certain level of income. Instead, they learn to be happy with what they already have. They have learned the art of contentment. Be content with what you have and you will be happy.

12. Change

They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
Confucius

Being happy requires you to constantly grow. In fact, the process of learning itself is essential for happiness. Have you ever felt the excitement of being enlightened about something? Have you ever felt the excitement of achieving a new level in life? Top 10 Things You Should Change in Your Life gives you some practical tips on changing your life.

13. Use your talents

True happiness involves the full use of one’s power and talents.
Douglas Pagels

There are two lessons to take from this quote. First, you should find your talents and second, you should use them to the fullest. Working in your talents is a sure way to enjoy your work because it’s something you are “hardwired” to do. Using your talents fully will make you even happier because of the satisfaction of doing your best.

14. Beware of small things

The happiness of most people we know is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.
Ernest Dimnet

This is very true. Often it’s not big things that ruin your happiness. It’s the small things that do. Perhaps you don’t like someone or break some “small” promises. But even small leaks can sink your ship of happiness, so beware of them.

15. Distill your ambitions

Where ambition ends happiness begins.
Author Unknown

While wanting to achieve more in your life is good, being obsessed by it is not. Do your best to improve yourself but don’t be obsessed by it.

16. Make others happy

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is my favorite secret of happiness. The way to being happy is to make others happy first. The more you help other people and make them happy, the more you will be happy. Happiness doesn’t come through selfishness but through selflessness. You reap what you sow.

17. Practice compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
The Dalai Lama

Compassion is perhaps the highest level of selflessness we could have. As this quote aptly says, practicing compassion can make both others and you happy.

But of course, it requires practice. Start with thinking about the people around you. Look at their needs and find ways to meet them. Even if you don’t do it out of compassion in the beginning, your compassion will grow over time.

***

All in all, this quote by Aristotle can summarize the lessons above:

Happiness depends upon ourselves.

It’s you who decide whether or not you are happy in life.

I choose to be happy. What about you?

See also: Being Happy: How Not to Love Stuff

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This article is part of July 2008 theme: Happiness

Published on July 23, 2008