During the last fifty years, there have been spurts of positive income growth, purchasing power and an unbelievable increase in luxuries in the U.S. However, Richard Layard, a British economist says that we have been living on a happiness plateau.
The disconnection between what we have and what we feel has created much interest among social scientists, psychologists and writers. It has also led to a significant amount of research in the area of happiness.
For instance, important research in the area of Positive Psychology has discovered what contributes to a sense of well-being and happiness. One of the exciting discoveries is that there are things you can do to increase happiness without making major life changes. Ongoing research and publications on happiness indicate that once your basic needs are met, money does not make you happy. Things that have the potential to make you happy are:
Meaningful work that you enjoy.
More giving and less getting.
Gratefulness for what you have.
Less watching television.
While you may not want to put time and energy into each of these areas, there are probably a couple that would be meaningful to you. From the above list, make a commitment and plan to enrich several of these areas in your life.
Some things you can do with your favorite memories to begin to feel happier are:
Make a list of your favorite memories from the last six months.
Find some photos or mementos to remind you of your positive memories. Put them in a place where you can easily see them.
Choose one of your favorite memories and use visual imagery or a mental snapshot to savor the experience and feeling. Then, deposit the memory in your “happiness account”.
Research also indicates that how you choose to think about things can affect your level of happiness. The article “Sweet Remembrance” in the July 2006 issue of Psychology Today pointed out how positive memories can increase your feelings of happiness and help you be healthier.
If you want to try doing this as an exercise for yourself:
Take fifteen to twenty minutes a day to think about happy or good experiences you have had. It is especially helpful to do this before you fall asleep at night.
Replay them in color in your head as if you were watching a movie.
Capture the feeling that goes with it.
Be sure to think of how the experience felt then rather than focusing on the event being over now. To improve your mood, it is important to see each good event as permanently enriching rather than temporary.
In addition to decreasing feelings of depression and improving your health, this exercise can:
Give you a sense of meaning and purpose.
Boost your mood.
Improve friendships and close relationships.
Help you cope with problems more effectively.
Increase your sense of well-being.
Start to reap the benefits from having an improved sense of well-being and feeling happier today by choosing to follow some of these suggestions. Positive Psychology can help you move forward confidently and successfully.