What is Happiness and Why is it Important?
Happiness is a unique emotional experience for each of us, which can make it tricky to define.
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 much control do we have over our happiness?
Wellbeing is fundamental to our happiness and life satisfaction. Wellbeing is a combination of factors that make us feel physically, mentally, socially and emotionally healthy.
On the other hand, happiness comes from within us. It is dependent on what we think, feel and do. This means we aren’t just a product of our genes and our circumstances, but we are active drivers in how happy we feel.
We will all experience hardship at some point in our lives. It’s our response to it that makes the difference. Thankfully, we have the ability to break free from common traps or obstacles that are blocking our happiness by learning new coping skills.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)-based coping skills are taught in all of our treatment programs. Like the name suggests, CBT targets the cognitions (i.e. things you think) and behaviours (i.e. things you do) that contribute to conditions like stress, anxiety and depression. These skills teach you to how to respond to negative emotions in a healthy way.
Working on your happiness can contribute to your overall wellbeing – and the wellbeing of those around you.
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 just making a small adjustment can improve our happiness.
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.
Interested in learning more?
How to Create an Attitude of Gratitude
Practicing gratitude allows us to accept our current situation, appreciate the good qualities in ourselves (and others) and helps us to feel happier.