THINKING OF OTHERS
Getting outside ourselves and seeing and feeling empathy for others helps us focus less on our own pain and situation. It also helps facilitate connection as we see others more clearly.
"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less." - C.S. Lewis
How happy we are in life is pretty closely related to the quality of our relationships. Which is why dealing with relationship trauma is so painful. But study after study shows that those who have a core group of supportive, loving people who are there for them are happier and live longer.
"Why are close, loving relationships so crucial to our well-being and happiness? Relationships create psychological space and safety so that we can explore and learn. When we feel safe and supported, we don’t have to narrow in on survival tasks like responding to danger or finding our next meal. We are able to explore our world, which builds resources for times of stress and adversity." (link)
Characterisics of close relationships (from PBS.org):
- The ability to love and be loved
- Mutual understanding
- A source of direct help in times of trouble
- Celebration of good times
- Validation of self-worth
- A diversity of ideas and influences to help us grow and learn
I can't tell you the number of WoPAs (wives of porn addicts) I've talked to who will confirm that it was in support groups and online forums and our Togetherness Communities that their lives were saved and changed -- those connections, with women who understood and could empathize, were among the most healing part of their recovery.
LESS SMALL TALK
Along with those close relationships comes deeper conversations, which contribute to our overall happiness in life. According to 'The 15 Habits of Supremely Happy People':
"According to one study, small talk, instead of predicting your intelligence, may instead actually hinder your happiness. (To be fair, the researchers note that small talk is obviously important for smoothing into social conversations, especially with new acquaintances . . . )
"In the long term, however, a happier life eschews trivial chatter in favor of longer, more thoughtful conversations. In general, talking with others is a good thing for our happiness, but when the conversation is always superficial, it begins to take a toll:
"'…the extent of small talk was negatively associated with happiness… [and] the extent of substantive talk was positively associated with happiness. So, happy people are socially engaged with others, and this engagement entails matters of substance.'"
Taking care of ourselves and not always putting ourselves last can be difficult to fit into busy lives, especially a busy life in trauma -- but it's imperative. We can only be as emotionally healthy as we give time and effort to being. Exercise, emotional and mental care, simple pleasures, and time are things we need to find a way to prioritize to help fill our bucket -- especially when so many other little buckets need filling from our own if we have kids or others who depend on us. Running on fumes for too long leaves us with nothing left and damage done.
SETTING & WORKING TOWARDS GOALS
From the book, 'Engineering Happiness':
"In his studies, the psychologist Jonathan Freedman claimed that people with the ability to set objectives for themselves—both short-term and long-term—are happier."
"Progress on our goals leads to more positive emotions and more satisfaction with life. It increases our well being. In turn, positive emotions contribute to our motivation to act. This is a win-win situation if we can 'just get started.'" Timothy A. Pychyl at www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/200806/goal-progress-and-happiness
Studies show that showing gratitude -- 'counting your blessings', so to speak -- has a measurable affect on our happiness. Again, this doesn't mean ignoring the trials in life -- those have much to teach us, and there's no way around them, only through them. But consciously cataloguing the people, things and experiences in our lives that we are grateful for helps us keep a healthy and more positive perspective. And boosts happiness levels. Another study showed that writing thank you notes helped increase one's feelings of emotional well being, happiness and life satisfaction. We touch two lives, ours and the other persons, every time we genuinely offer expressions of gratitude.
Recognizing our blessings and expressing gratitude are two sides of the same coin that will help us feel happier and more joy in our lives.
In a lot of ways, this list is just a start -- and each person will have their own path to finding and claiming their own happiness and sense of well being in their own lives. Which leaves us asking you:
What helps you find happiness and joy in day to day life?
Check out even more tips at 'The 15 Habits of Supremely Happy People' at www.sparringmind.com/be-happy/