Happiness doesn't come easily. It takes work, preparation and positive thinking. Tal Ben-Shahar, author of "Happier" and "The Pursuit of Perfect," discusses the importance of positive psychology and its role in a happy life.
First, accept your emotions. It's perfectly natural to be sad, unhappy or frustrated. "Many people think that happiness is about a constant high," says Ben-Shahar. "In fact, the people - the only people - who do not experience painful emotions, such as anger or disappointment or envy, are the psychopaths and the dead." Give yourself permission to feel. You're allowed to be upset. It's only human.
Happiness isn't a superficial feeling, either. In order for it to be real, it has to be pleasurable and meaningful. "For a deep sense of lasting satisfaction... we need to experience a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose, a sense of significance in our lives," says Ben-Shahar.
Acknowledge that happiness is a state of mind; happiness doesn't come from external things. "Happiness is contingent on our state of mind much more than on our status or the state of our bank account," says Ben-Shahar. You could have all the money you could ever want and still not be happy. Be content with who you are and what you have.
If you're having trouble eliminating unnecessary things that may be bogging you down, simplify your life. "There can be too much of a good thing," says Ben-Shahar. "Do less rather than more." Switch off your cell phone and turn off the computer and television. Focus on spending quality time with family and friends instead of answering emails and messages immediately. Allow yourself to take it easy for once, and recognize that it's okay to do so.
Some people believe that a healthy body can equal a healthy mind. Ben-Shahar suggests engaging in regular physical activity, like jogging, swimming or going for a hike, a few times a week. He says just 30 minutes of exercise can be better for you than some psychiatric medications.
Finally, be thankful and appreciate what you have. By expressing gratitude, "the good in our lives appreciates," says Ben-Shahar. In the same respect, by encouraging negative thoughts, the good in your life will depreciate. By thinking positive thoughts, you'll have more positive energy in your life instead.
By Erin Petrun
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