What is Happiness and Why is it Important?
Whilst we may have a sense of what happiness is, often by how we feel at the time, it can be tricky to define.
That’s because happiness is a unique emotional experience for each of us.
If we are to speak generally, happiness can be summed up by two main components:
- The balance of emotions: Overall experiencing more positive than negative feelings.
- Life satisfaction: How fulfilled we are in the different areas of our lives, such as relationships, work, interests, and how much our life aligns with our values.
Happiness is more than the absence of sadness, as it speaks to our overall sense of purpose and satisfaction in life. We can experience happiness, while still feeling indifferent, disconnected or numb.
Why is happiness important?
Whilst it’s important to recognise we cannot, and should not, be aiming to be ‘happy’ 100% of the time, our wellbeing is reliant on experiencing happiness from time to time. That is, experiencing positive, enjoyable emotions, and feeling connected to a sense of contentment in our lives. Experiencing happiness is important for our emotional and physical health.
A stronger sense of happiness and wellbeing has been shown to lead to better relationships, increase social connection and contribution to the lives of others, as well as contributing to healthier physical wellbeing.
How can we improve our happiness?
There has been a lot of excellent research looking into happiness, how we experience it, and importantly, what we can do to build and maintain our own happiness and wellbeing.
Key strategies identified in the research body include:
- Fostering an attitude of gratitude
- Helping others
- Keeping active and caring for our physical health with good sleep and exercise
- Connecting with our community
What if I find it hard to prioritise my happiness?
It’s a real challenge that many of us are time-poor, with demands and responsibilities across our home and work-life that can sometimes feel never-ending. But it’s so important to prioritise time for the things that bring us connection, joy and happiness. The good news is, we can do this in creative ways each day even amongst the busyness of life.
Prioritising your happiness will mean you’re better equipped to face the day-to-day challenges when they arise, and connect us to purpose and meaning in our lives. It can help to look at your current routine and see if you can bring in mindfulness, enjoyment or self-care in a way that doesn’t add additional time. For example, can you call your friend or family during your morning commute to catch up? Can you enjoy a playlist of your favourite music whilst cooking dinner in the evening? Perhaps you can find one evening a week to try a new hobby?
It can also help to look at our lifestyle to see if there’s room to improve our happiness, for example, practice good sleep hygiene and regular sleep/wake times. Sometimes making a small adjustment can improve our happiness simply with better rest and more energy throughout the day.
Three Daily Ways to Boost Happiness
Start a gratitude journal: Reflecting on good things that happened in your day can give you an instant mood boost, no matter how big or small.
Extra sleep: Research from the University of Michigan found that getting just an extra hour of sleep every night will make you happier than earning a $60,000 raise for the year! If you’re struggling with sleep, take a look at our free Insomnia Program.
Practise mindfulness: Short mindfulness practice every day can help us realise that we are not our thoughts or emotions. If you’d like to learn how to stay focused on the present moment, take a look at our free Mindfulness Program.
If you’re unsure of how you’re feeling today, you could try our anonymous Take-a-Test Tool to see which online program(s) might best suit your needs.
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