Words Jeannie Croucher
It is generally accepted that happy people are more productive, more creative and better problem-solvers than their unhappy peers. Happiness also makes us more positive and healthy and less stressed. While some people prioritise fame and fortune, for many, the greatest desire in life is to be happy – that elusive, sometimes ethereal sense of pure joy and lasting contentment. But is long-lasting happiness attainable? Or is it just a matter of chance and good fortune that some naturally start the day with a spring in their step, ready and willing to face the world with a smile?
Since prehistoric times, our brains have been genetically predisposed to help us stay safe and to survive, so it’s hard-wired in us to worry about where the next threat will come from rather than to simply enjoy the moment.
But are there steps we can take to increase our odds of a happy-ever-after life? The answer is, absolutely. Here are some secrets to help you maintain a sense of prolonged happiness.
The average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day, and for most people, 85 per cent of these are negative. Swapping positive thoughts for negative ones helps you to retrain the brain in the quest for happiness. While it’s not always easy, consciously making an effort to think positively cultivates a more optimistic and productive mind. Try simple exercises such as pausing for a moment throughout your day to think of things that bring you joy – a flower, your pet, sunlight dancing on water. Start the day with a positive affirmation, either thinking it to yourself or saying it aloud, such as ‘Today is a good day’, making sure to express it in the present tense.
Live in the moment
We tend to spend a considerable amount of time thinking about what has happened in the past or worrying about what will happen in the future. Making an effort to remain in the present moment, trying not to let the mind wander too far, even when doing a mundane task such as washing dishes or grocery shopping, can bring about a sense of calm and appreciation for life’s experiences.