International Day of Happiness: Missed it? It’s ok.

Happy people are healthier; they get sick less often and live longer. Happy people are more likely to get married and have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends. They make more money and are more productive at work*.

Wanna be one? Move to Denmark. Just kidding. Although the UN just proclaimed the Danes the happiest people on the planet – again – there is also some research to suggest that it is in their genes so just moving there might not work. And, maybe you missed the UN’s “International Day of Happiness” on March 20th, but it’s ok. You can be happy anyway. Let’s call it International Week of Happiness, or Year of Happiness, or Decade, or Life. Whatever you want. And here are 5 science-backed ways to make it happen. Check out Kira Newman’s article* for a variety of more specific data backed exercises but, briefly, they are:

  1. Acknowledge the good (e.g., write down 3 things each night for which you are grateful)
  2. Add happiness through subtraction (e.g., imagine life without someone or something you cherish)
  3. Find meaning and purpose (e.g., imagine yourself as the best possible you in the future)
  4. Use your strengths (e.g., pick a core strength and apply it in some way every day)
  5. Connect with others (e.g., perform 5 acts of kindness daily in connection with another person)

What if any of this works, you may worry. What will become of me if I’m in la-la land all the time? Will someone else envy my good nature and fortune? Well, maybe. For at least one client this was the case, but was her wallowing in their pit really helping anyone. Wasn’t it better for her to lead a way that they could follow out there into the sun**. If they cared to. Only if they cared to… Or you may worry that you might miss something that you need to take care of. No worries there. We are all hardwired to keep an eye out for trouble coming down the pike. And a happy head is a very good head to take on problems that may arise.

Okay then, what about sadness? Who wouldn’t want to cherish the memory of a loved one even if it made us sad? What if we were so happy we couldn’t even feel sad? Doesn’t work like that. One of the finest moments in my study of philosophy was when a tutor said, “You know, Madelaine, it is possible to feel happy and sad at the same time.” Duh, but somehow it seemed a gigantic revelation nonetheless – that, as with Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, when we are open to whatever comes, be it joy or sorrow or anything else, emotionally we get to do and be and have it all. This openness to experience that can enrich our entire life experience can take courage and practice. Practice, practice, practice…and see what happens.

To work on this or something else, would love to hear from you. Write or call:

Email:  Madelaine Weiss

Phone:  202.617.0821

“5 Science-Backed Strategies for More Happiness,” Kira Newman

**Examples and illustrations are fictional composites inspired by but not depicting nor referring to any actual specific person in my practice or life experience.

Copyright © 2016. Madelaine Claire Weiss. All rights reserved.



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