“Go for the sense of inner joy, of inner peace, of inner vision first and then all the other things from the outside will appear.” Marci Shimoff
Welcome! Some say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Others say it is the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. And the holiday calendar references this as National Optimism Month. Let’s take a closer look at what positive psychology has offered: The road to optimism may have begun when you were born. We are all born with a happiness meter. According to a Review of General Psychology in 2005, 50% of people’s happiness is determined by their genes, 10% depends on their circumstances and 40% on “intentional activity” (mainly, whether you’re positive). They continue to point out that with intentional activities, we can raise our happiness meter and sustain it at higher levels. These activities include engaging in a new exercise program to boost one’s mood and vitality (the boost can last up to six months), practicing positive virtues such as gratitude and acts of kindness or forgiveness and volitional activity such as pursuing one’s goals.
In The Curious Voyage: A Rule-Breaking Guidebook to Authenticity, I offer an exercise to work on your values and priorities (Chapter 2, Page 67), which can help you set out to reach meaningful goals.
A more recent study, “Why Some People Find it Harder to Be Happy,” inspects nature and nurture. Both speak about the importance of improving our habits.
I find the habit of doing something in each of the below areas keeps me moving forward. The detail may change, for example, which inspirational teacher I am reading or studying with may vary or what exercise, but the habit to address these areas helps me move toward greater happiness. Let me know what inspires you.
- Continuously refreshing yourself with new interests and inspirational readings.
- Surround yourself with supportive, positive people. This can be seeking out friends that lift you up, or family members and colleagues who have a positive outlook and support your strengths. Over time I have learned to ask my supportive friends for what I need during struggling moments rather than joining and validating my worry thoughts.
- Enjoy activities of interest (which may change over time). Trying new things can open you up to unexpected talents.
- Pay attention to your internal dialogue. How can you enhance your self-kindness?
- Spending quality time in nature and/or with pets/animals.
- Replenishing your acts of self-kindness.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein