There’s that word again! Do we often check our happiness meter to see how high it is? I find that I am more likely to ask myself questions at the start and end of the day along the lines of, “How do I feel about today with what’s ahead?”, and, “How good a day have I just had?” When researchers explore this notion of happiness, they have two common ways of measuring it. Firstly, how often do we experience positive feelings over any time period, and how high is our life satisfaction (more of a global measure) at a certain point. These two factors are obviously interlinked as lots of happy feelings through the course of the day may lead to a feeling of contentment when we look back on that time period. But does that then influence a general feeling of life satisfaction? I’d like to think so.
But back to the issue of our state of happiness. Some people choose to look at life through the proverbial half empty glass filter. That way they don’t get disappointed and manage to exist in a more stable mood perhaps? Others amongst us would like to cultivate positive feelings and, with a sense of optimism, look forward to pleasant events ahead. I have also learnt that I can structure my day so that I end up feeling more satisfied with the overall experience. I’ve come to recognise that this is usually to do with what I choose to do with the day and how much I set myself as tasks to complete. If I manage to plan a balance of activities with plenty of time in nature, and stick to that plan, and set an achievable task list instead of working manically towards a never-ending goal of getting everything done, I will end up in a much happier mood at dinnertime.
I’ve also learnt that when I experience good feelings I can make them last longer by sharing them. Like hearing my father laugh at a story I told him today on his 85th birthday. If I recount that to other people, the feeling of amusement and love, keep on being reproduced!
There are many things we can’t change in our lives. We experience continual stress with the demands placed on us by others and by ourselves. We could constantly be at the beck and call of everyone through technology that never sleeps. But we do have choices and if we understand what makes us, as individiuals, feel like we’re experiencing a good life, then we can choose accordingly.