Happiness is not always about you

Ants helping each other (1)In today’s society, people often equate happiness with fame and fortune.  This is a fallacy.

Ninety percent of happiness is based on your mental model of the world and how your brain processes what is happening around you.

And much of that is impacted by the level of effort you put into building relationships.

People often think of happiness as an individual pursuit.  They see the attainment of happiness as an outcome that needs to be pursued and that being happy is about what they can get, rather than what they give.

This isn’t surprising given that we live in a culture which is highly focused on the individual.

However, pursuing happiness as an end in itself is likely to be detrimental.  When you pursue happiness you can seek pleasures and outcomes that are quick fixes, rather than focusing on longer term outcomes.

The research shows that deriving happiness in life is often much more about what you do with others.

Research from the Greater Good Science Centre suggests that one of the keys to happiness is focusing on building relationships with people.  This includes finding social opportunities and developing practices such as compassion and gratitude, which help you to feel connected with the people around you.

As you know, if you want to be influential it is critical to have good relationships so there’s a double benefit from this focus.

So if being happy isn’t a solo venture, what are some of the things you can do every day to increase your happiness quotient?

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

Do nice things for other people – when you do something nice for someone else it makes you feel good.  Helping others helps you realise the positive forces in your life, that others may not have.

Wish people well – if you are in a busy environment take a moment to stop, and notice those around you. Internally cultivate the wish that you want them to be happy, healthy and free of suffering.  Wishing others well is good for your own emotional state.

Devote time to important relationships every day – this goes beyond maintaining connections on social media. Ring people. Have a coffee with them. The connection needs to be personal.  Close bonds and being comfortable to share how you feel and being open about experiences is healthy and very good for the soul. People who are happy have strong connections to the community and good friends.

Congratulate others for their success – be genuinely happy when those around you do well.  Take the time to write a hand written note. These small gestures go a long way to building lasting relationships.

Be grateful for what you have – gratitude is an important component of a happy and healthy life.  Be grateful for what you have, rather than always focusing on what you don’t have.  A focus on the negative can breed jealousy, which is never a pre-cursor to building good relationships.

It was the Dalai Lama who said: Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

So what actions will you take this week?

About the Author

Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert and founder of Change Meridian.  Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress in complex environments. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’.

Article source: http://www.changemeridian.com.au/happiness-not-always/

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