Simple tools to create a "Happy Life"
Updated: Jul 25, 2022
Martin Seligman suggested that there are 3 types of "happy life":
The Good life: where you pursue what you love and live (most of the time) in a state of "flow".
The Meaningful Life: driven by a purpose where you act in the service of something greater than yourself.
The Pleasant Life: the pleasure which one finds in good company
He noted that while healthy social relationships do not guarantee a high state of happiness, a high state of happiness is not often found without them. He asserts that our sense of wellbeing can be driven by both hedonistic happiness (simple pleasures) and eudaemonic happiness (finding meaning in what we do) - in other words, you might be able to have 1 or 2 plus 3, and 3 is made better by 1 or 2, but perhaps you need only "good" OR "meaningful".
Further Positive Psychology research suggests that using Seligman's VIA character strengths inventory, the strengths most commonly associated with high levels of happiness are:
So what does this mean for us in practical terms?
Finding The Good Life
Ask yourself (of your job) "Am I happy?"
Ask yourself what experiences will make me happy?
Identify how you might achieve this (eg. add them to your job or switch jobs to one more closely aligned to your desires)
Take steps to do number 3!
Finding the Meaningful Life
Reflect on a past achievement and identify what YOU found meaningful. (For example, one of mine was my swimming ribbon for retrieving a brick in my pajamas from the bottom of the pool...however it was not about the ribbon, but because I'd worked really hard to do it, not being a strong swimmer. From this I have identified what gives me most meaning is seeing people grow (not the teaching, nor the "success" - but seeing effort put in and paying off).
How can you include that element day to day?
Cultivating the Pleasant Life
Ask yourself "With whom am I most 'myself'?"
Identify why - what is it about those people that you love?
Work to spend more time with those people
AND to be those things back to them!
And to boost your "happiness quota" try:
ZEST: Take advantage of the natural ways to boost your brain chemistry eg: getting out in the fresh air encourages serotonin (which in turn regulates our body functions making us feel better); sunlight boosts vitamin D which in turn strengthens our immune system; and exercise boosts endorphins - as does laughing with friends - do them together and you'll also get a rise in oxytocin (the bonding hormone).
CURIOSITY: Perhaps before you start scrolling through social media, try and get into the habit of reading one new article about something that interests you.
HOPE: Reflect at the end of each day on what you are proud of and what you intend to do the next day - this intention setting gives you a positive focus for your energy and can even help you embody the qualities of that intention.
GRATITUDE: Find a "gratitude buddy" and set aside 5 minutes over dinner or before bed to take it in turns to say 3 things you are grateful for. Regular gratitude practice has physiological benefits including the reduction of cortisol (the stress hormone) and a lowering of feelings of anxiety or depression over time.
LOVE: Take a moment to tell someone why you love them - take a moment to tell you why you love you as well.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For coaching tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt
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