We often use the terms wellbeing and life satisfaction in favour of the sometimes wrongly interpreted label of “happiness”, yet there is no getting away from the fact that happier people do better in life – on many fronts! But first, how do we measure happiness? There are two commons ways of measuring “happiness” – firstly, subjective wellbeing – people are asked about the degree of life satisfaction they experience and this is matched with a high level of positive emotions and a low level of negative emotions. This is more about a snapshot at any one time. The second way is of a more enduring measure – how much fulfillment we are getting from our relationships, how much meaning we are experiencing in our life and whether we feel we are developing as a person.
- Greater productivity at work;
- Greater creativity;
- Higher earning and better jobs;
- More likely to be leaders;
- More satisfying relationships;
- Better overall health;
- More likely to be helpful and generous.
So we know that around 40% of our overall happiness can be influenced by the activities we do. (The other 60% is either genetically determined – 50%, or linked to our circumstances.) What are those activities? Well there are many but here are a few tried and tested:
- Express gratitude;
- Be physically active;
- Be mindful and savour experiences;
- Practice forgiveness;
- Set life goals;
- Perform acts of kindness (make someone else happier).
The important thing also to note is that the activity needs to be a good “fit” for the individual. It needs to fit your personality, culture, and even strengths and what might work well for one person may not work for another. We need to remember this when working with clients and at times help them find the source of their unhappiness and come up with an activity that will counteract this.