How To Make Happiness A Habit
Hedonic adaptation describes the tendency for humans to begin adjusting our expectations when something good happens to us. While certain things or events make us happy for a while, we eventually start taking them for granted.
Thus, we have to consciously rewire our minds in order to achieve long-term happiness. How can we start building those habits today?
See your happiness as a marathon and not a sprint. Things or activities that make us feel good in the moment are sometimes unhealthy for us. For instance, after the initial high of binge eating sugary and processed foods, you may suddenly feel guilty and remorseful. There may also be negative consequences down the road if this impulsive behaviour continues, such as elevated levels of cholesterol or diabetes. All types of addiction follow the same path. If we focus instead on building and nurturing a meaningful life, we can achieve a more enduring happiness. When we nurture relationships, do meaningful work and contribute to our community, we can feel good about ourselves. Long-lasting contentment may not match the intensity of a momentary high, but it is certainly deeper and more fulfilling. This mindset can help us get through tough times, such as when we face health or financial challenges.
Have a solid support system. Research has shown that authentic relationships with partners, friends, families and coworkers can make us happier. Having loved ones that we can turn to when things aren’t going well gives us a sense of security and hope for the future. While it is important to self-validate, their validation goes a long way in helping to build up our resilience. Focus on deepening your relationships with those you genuinely care about, and those that genuinely care about you. Support them as they support you, and be open to being vulnerable. Nurturing relationships takes time, and there will be times when these relationships bring forth challenges of their own. Remember that the best things in life don’t come easy.
Cherish good moments. Our brains are wired towards negative bias. We care more about surviving than we do about our happiness, which means good moments are often easily overlooked or missed because we are preoccupied about life’s many matters. Thus we need to make the conscious choice daily to focus our attention on the positive events or moments of the day, such as a thoughtful note your spouse left in your packed lunch, or the cute neighbourhood dogs you got to pet during your morning jog. We can always extend enjoyment of these special moments – or tuck them away for enjoyment at a later time – through photographs, videos and social media.
Know what it means to be in control. When circumstances in our lives are not within our control, we have a harder time finding happiness. Take stock of everything in your life that you do have control over, such as your thoughts, feelings, decisions, and the goals that you set for yourself. Then distinguish them from factors outside of your control, such as the pandemic, how others see you and the economy. Once you’ve done this, you will paint a clearer picture of what you can work on to improve and achieve.
Try new things. If we try to keep everything the same in our lives, it may work to limit our happiness. Without challenges, we may experience feelings of discontentment and a general sense of lacking direction. Human beings are designed to be productive, and our brains naturally seek new challenges. Give in to and explore your curiosities. Feeding the mind with new information is another way to achieve happiness.