How to Find Happiness Without Seeking It

How to Find Happiness Without Seeking It

It can easily be argued that every decision a person makes is in the pursuit of happiness. You might say, “Wait a minute. I go to a job I hate every day just so I can pay my bills and barely survive.” True, but you really think that going to that miserable job will leave you happier than staying home and losing the ability to pay your bills.

The need to be happy drives everyone, but people pursue happiness through different means. Some believe they’ll be happy if they can only amass a large enough fortune. Others believe they’ll be happy by helping others. Some pursue a family, while other believe the freedom of staying single provides a better opportunity for happiness.

An investment banker and a Buddhist monk are still pursuing the same thing, only in dramatically different ways.

“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” -Thoreau

Can you make yourself happy on purpose? Can you pursue happiness and capture it like a child chasing a firefly? Science says “no.”

Find happiness without pursuing happiness:

1. Avoid overestimating the effect of your circumstances on your happiness. Even a perfect relationship and perfect job can become a grind after the newness wears off. You don’t need to live in the perfect location or have the ideal career to be happy. Nothing is perfect all the time.

* Studies show that people with modest incomes and possessions can be just as happy as the wealthy. There are happy and miserable people in the US, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and everywhere else in the world.

* There are happy and miserable doctors, clowns, homeless people, Christians, Jews, Muslims, tall people, short people, men, and women.

2. Searching for strong emotions. Studies find that the happiest people are moderately happy on a regular basis. The frequency of positive emotions is much more important for happiness than the intensity of the emotions.

3. Focusing on happiness leads to misery. Several scientific studies have shown that when subjects focused on happiness, they reported feeling lonely and depressed. Searching for happiness is a singular, perhaps even selfish, activity. Putting too much of your attention on yourself results in lowered mental health.

* Keep your attention on others if you want to be happy. It’s hard to be happy if you spend a lot of time alone.

4. Gratitude is an important component of happiness. If you have a lot to be grateful for, you’ll naturally be happy, too. Make gratitude a habit. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for several times each day.

* Set up trigger points, such as when you take a shower, put on your shoes, start your car, walk into your place of work, take off your shoes, and get into bed. These are just a few ideas. Think about your own life. What are your current morning and evening routines? Use those routines to remind you to be grateful.

Happiness is the goal, but it can’t be pursued. It just happens when you’re living your life. A few good friends, the right mindset, and gratitude are all the intelligent person requires to have a happy life. Live your life per your values. Following your values might not make you happy, but it will help to avoid being unhappy.

There’s no reason to put off being happy until you’re married, make six figures, or climb Mount Everest. Choose to be happy now.

Understanding and Managing Your Emotional Triggers

Understanding and Managing Your Emotional Triggers

Maybe you wonder what’s really going on when you feel like certain events push your buttons. Take control of your emotional triggers by increasing your awareness and developing new ways of responding.

Understanding Your Emotional Triggers

1. Learn the definition of triggers. A trigger is an experience that draws us back into the past and causes old feelings and behaviors to arise. An ice cream sandwich may remind you of summer vacations or gossiping coworkers could bring back images of high school cliques.

2. Spot external prompts. Some triggers are situational and social. Many people tend to eat more at holiday gatherings. If your spouse is tense, it may affect your own mood.

3. Identify internal causes. Over time, anything can be internalized. Even when you’re surrounded by loved ones, you may be carrying around old conflicts that interfere with your ability to live in the present moment.

4. Realize we all have triggers. Much of the literature about triggers focuses on addictions. It’s important to remember that memory plays a powerful role in all our lives.

5. Accept individual differences. If you’re startled by loud noises that your spouse fails to notice, you’ve seen how differently people react to the same stimulus.

Taking such variety into account improves communications and relationships.

Managing Your Emotional Triggers

1. Keep a journal. Tracking your triggers is often the first step in mastering them. It might be helpful to keep a log of occasions when you experience intense emotions or engage in behavior you want to change. Note what’s going on in your head and in your surroundings at the time.

2. Challenge yourself. The key to change is placing yourself in difficult positions and being open to doing something new and more constructive. If worrying about money is keeping you up at night, call your creditors to arrange payment plans.

3. Know your capacity. Proceed at your own pace. Start out by being more assertive with your spouse and friends if you need to practice before talking with your boss.

4. Come up with alternatives. Take advantage of quiet times to brainstorm new strategies you can use when you are under pressure. List productive and enjoyable activities you can substitute for gambling or other habits you want to break.

5. Make time to relax. Reducing daily stress will make it easier to handle intense emotions. Begin a daily meditation practice or start out the day by listening to instrumental music during your drive to the office.

6. Consider therapy. If you’re having trouble making progress on your own, professional help could make a big difference. Ask your physician or people you trust for references or call the psychology department at your local universities.

7. Live healthy. One simple way to make yourself more resilient is to take good care of your body and mind. Eat right, sleep well, and exercise regularly. You’ll be better prepared to bounce back from any obstacles that may arise.

8. Develop a strong support network. Close family and friends are vital to feeling validated and nurtured. When you’re dealing with stubborn issues, it’s good to know you have people who care about you and want to help.

9. Show compassion. The more you know about your own triggers, the more insight you can develop into what the people around you may be struggling with. Strive to be a little more patient and forgiving and people will be more likely to do the same for you.

We all have our own unique emotional triggers. Learning to handle them constructively enables us to fix the issues that get in our way and move ahead in life.