There are a million books out there teaching you to be happier and more positive. Tons of articles on the best path to being happy. Some of the best include ‘The Happiness Habit’ by Brian Colbert, ‘The Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler and ‘Feeling Good’ by David Burns.
What most have in common is the importance of recognizing that happiness is something that is not as a result of your circumstances but as a result of what you do in your head.
Now what is also true is that our circumstances can influence how happy we are. If you’ve been left by your partner or lost your job or live in poverty or in a war zone, no amount of practicing psychological skills can guarantee you happiness. No matter what your situation though, using such skills can help you do better than you would otherwise.
Happiness is an inside job in the sense that you do a number of practices consistently to increase your odds of feeling happy most of the time. Let’s look at the four key types of happiness I believe we can search for.
The first type is simple pleasure which comes about from doing things which make you feel good. Food, sex, fun, dancing, massage… all things you do that make you feel really good in the moment.
The second type is more what has been described as eudaimonia… a good feeling that comes from living a good life and doing good things. This is the type that has been emphasized as important by Ancient Greek philosophers such as Socrates.
The third type is more about achievement. This is the happiness that comes from being motivated and succeeding in getting the results you want.
The final type is about contentment. This is the happiness that comes from being happy with what you already have.
To me, it’s important to recognize all four types of happiness. I believe they all serve an important purpose in our lives. Many philosophies out there will argue that one of them might be the best and while that may be true, all are valid to combine and work on for us to be truly happy.
So if you are looking to become happier, consider how you can make each of the four something you work on consistently and each day. Provide opportunities to experience pleasure, find meaning through doing good, make ambitious goals and strive for them and feel gratitude for what you have.
Embrace ideas from NLP, Stoicism, Buddhism, Mindfulness, CBT and more… so that you can make happiness happen more from you regardless of your situation.