21 Apr 10 ways to flourish and find happiness
Check out my article recently published in Wellbeing Magazine…
For too many people, “success” is defined primarily in material or financial terms and “beauty” in superficial terms. Although this is not totally inappropriate, there’s no doubt that an exclusive focus on “stuff” and dollars to the exclusion of other life domains can be problematic if it leads to imbalance (eg a life of work without health, good-quality relationships or meaning), and an excessive focus on “physical appearance” over inner qualities and attributes can lead to a superficial existence without deeper positive emotion, including satisfaction and contentment.
Life is made up of several domains in which external and superficial variables such as wealth and physical appearance should certainly be considered important, but only as long as they’re seen in context and in perspective. True happiness might include a degree of material and vocational success, and there’s nothing wrong with looking good or wanting to look good, but research strongly suggests that achieving real and meaningful happiness depends on a range of other vitally important factors. It could even be described as finding your inner beauty.
So how can you be really happy and how do you achieve inner beauty? Implement the following 10 practical (but powerful) steps and you’ll find that no matter how good or bad it is at the moment, your life can be even better…
Step 1: Make a decision to be happy and start to believe that real happiness is a definite possibility. Make a decision to recognise that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes (some not entirely visible). Happiness is essentially a choice, but you need to believe it is achievable. It’s also crucial to realise that your happiness is predominantly your responsibility, so if you want to enjoy and get more out of life, you need to take charge.
Step 2: Determine what happiness and inner beauty mean to you. Some people are born with exceptional genes, a physical foundation that contributes to them being seen as attractive by others. At the same time, though, there are other ways to make yourself attractive and “beautiful” to yourself and others, so reflect on (and/or ask someone who knows you well) your inner attributes and qualities and start to consider what you can do to maximise these traits and bring out your best.
Along similar lines, work out what’s important in your life and what you need to do to get more of it into your life. Research suggests happy people tend to know who they are, what they want to achieve and where they’re going; they set goals and they make plans. Remember, if you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s. And guess what they may have planned for you? Not much!
Step 3: Think optimistically about achieving the life you want. Henry Ford once said: “If you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Optimistic thinking is probably the factor that most determines happiness and, interestingly, optimism is far more visible than we sometimes realise. Those who think optimistic thoughts (ie positive and realistic) smile more and experience more positive emotions; those who experience more positive emotions are more liked by others. Our thoughts influence our actions and reactions, including aspects of our appearance, so optimism undoubtedly contributes to beauty and the good news is, if you’re not naturally optimistic, you can learn to be! So, without losing sight of reality, be positive and stay focused on doing what you want and need for happiness.
Step 4: Don’t go it alone. It might be a cliché, but life is a journey and there’s no doubt that the journey will be far more enjoyable if you’re accompanied by people who are important to you and to whom you are important. In 2002, in one of the most significant research studies published in the positive psychology literature, Ed Diener and Martin Seligman found that, along with optimism, good-quality relationships are significant determinants of happiness and, further, good relationships enhance our experience of positive emotions, which, again, boosts beauty.
You’ve probably heard or read about people who are in love and “glowing”. Well, you can capitalise on this and increase your inner beauty by building and fostering the relationships in your life from which you and others will benefit. Helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. Studies conducted by Professor Stephen Post in the US show that helping others builds a bank of goodwill, an investment that brings good things back to us, from feelings of wellbeing to others giving back to us…
…finish reading the full and original article on Wellbeing Magazine's site HERE