We can’t deny it: happiness is something we all want and need. But in this day and age, happiness can seem so fleeting and so difficult to sustain. How do we get joy and how do we hold on to it?
Many times, we feel that our happiness depends on other people, either by receiving the praise and recognition we deserve from our boss and colleague, or by the love we desire from our partner. However, as science has shown, your happiness is in your own hands.
Therapists explain 3 reasons why happiness is in your own hands.
Is it hard for you to believe it? That is understandable. Life can be cruel and it makes it difficult for us to feel that we have that kind of ability. However, if you’ve ever been to therapy, you know that we actually have a surprising amount of power over our own perception of happiness.
So, what do therapists know that we don’t? Let’s find out.
1. Happiness and success are not the same.
With the amount of time we spend at work, it is easy to assume that the two are interrelated. However, this is not true. As the psychiatrist explains, the concept of wealth is fairly recent. Once you have enough money to feel comfortable, no amount of wealth will make you happier.
What exactly are you going through? Frankly speaking, the benefits your job brings you are not really what you need.
Here’s the thing: work as a concept is something that is still relatively new, and quite frankly, it doesn’t meet any of our needs. Biologically speaking, we are back to hunter-gatherer software.
This means that to be truly happy, we must first meet those basic needs that are built into our DNA, not the ones that we have rapidly built up over the past two hundred years.
And here’s the unfortunate: Success at work often comes at the cost of your relationships. These are some of the things it affects:
Relationships with loved ones.
Our time and energy are limited, and the only thing that work gives in return is money. If we invest most of it in careers, then we simply cannot spend time with our loved ones. After all, you can’t accurately attend a friend’s baby shower if you have work commitments that you prefer to prioritize.
Connections with others.
Work often alienates you from other people and places a barrier of formality between you and the next person that can be difficult to cross. This is a problem, since the deprivation of physical contact is really terrible for our mental health, positive thinking and happiness.
It also doesn’t help that not all workplaces are kind to hugging employees.
Working overtime is bad for your health.
This really shouldn’t be news. The CDC released a report as early as 2004 on how working overtime is mentally and physically detrimental to your health. In other words, there is literally no long-term benefit to working harder than necessary at your job.
Fortunately, change is not too difficult for us either, just remember that your success has nothing to do with your happiness. Instead, consider: What kinds of activities make you happy? When was the last time you had an honest conversation with your family? Who was the last time you had a friendly lunch date?
If you can begin to answer these questions, happiness will surely come to you.
2. How is your mental health?
We often think of happiness as a state of being that must occur as a reward for completing specific goals, or is something that just happens. However, this is not really the case.
No matter what life gives you, feeling happy is in your head. And as any therapist claims to tell you, if your head is not ready to be positive and receive joy, then you will not feel happy whatever happens.
What do we mean by that? There’s a lot of talk about how you should practice positive thinking to achieve happiness, but it’s easier said than done. Modern society has caused us many problems, including mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
Mental illness affects your happiness even more than poverty. As an example, here are some of the thing’s depression does to your brain:
Cause Executive dysfunction.
Executive functioning is the part of your brain responsible for things like organizing, planning, and executing ideas. When this goes downhill, so does your ability to schedule appointments, schedule meetings, and start your day’s work. It’s not exactly great if you want to be positive, since you can’t be sure that you are productive.
Causes serotonin deficiency.
It’s hard to feel happy when you literally don’t have enough of that happy juice. Serotonin is a brain chemical that is primarily responsible for that elusive feeling of happiness, and a lack of it is associated with low moods.
That’s right, depression can disrupt your sleep. And you just need a bad night’s sleep to keep your spirit permanently dark for the rest of the day. Imagine that that effect worsens for months or even years.
As a result of battling mental illness, depression often leaves us incredibly tired and exhausted at all times. It’s not exactly a great recipe to make anything, which in turn worsens our mood.
If you’ve been struggling with your mental health, you may have to deal with it first before you can attain happiness. Therapy even helps with what would otherwise be simple day-to-day problems. Once you address what is causing you problems and poor mental health, happiness becomes much more achievable.
This, of course, requires you to acknowledge that you have problems, which is sometimes the hardest part. He just knows that therapy is only there to help and that it is all worth it in the end.
3. Advocate for your brain.
It’s a simple fact: our brains were made for variety. After several millennia, our brains, like any other mammal, yearn for stimulation in all its forms.
So how can we take advantage of this evolutionary trait and use it to our advantage? We like to think that we are smarter, more superior than most other creatures, but this is false. At the end of the day, we are still animals, just ones with much more complicated thoughts.
Sometimes you just need to appeal directly to our monkey brains for that sweet dopamine boost. And the easiest way to do it is to create something.
But first, what is dopamine? Dopamine is a chemical that is often associated with the rewarding part of our brain, but there is something else. Not only does he reward you for the big things, he also rewards you for the little things. And by small, we mean elements such as:
- Drink water.
- Be on a task.
And that’s not even the half! This means that the act of making something tangible, like knitting a sock or making soup, is an incredible continuous source of dopamine.
There’s a reason arts and crafts are so popular – they make you happy. Won’t creating something electronic produce the same result? Unfortunately, this is not the case. While the act of creating something virtual can make us happy, it is not as effective.
Our brains are not ready for something like this yet. All of this is also backed by neuroscience. Something as simple as the act of repairing a lamp fills your brain with those chemicals that make you feel good. In fact, a crucial ingredient for happiness.
So, what does this mean to you? The answer is pretty simple: pick a tool and start doing something tangible. It doesn’t matter if your instrument is a pen, a needle, or just your fingers; As long as you get to the act of creating something, it can bring you happiness.
In fact, this is such an authoritative source of happiness that the work of an occupational therapist largely uses this positive outcome to ensure that your therapy works. And if it’s good enough for the pros, it’s definitely good enough for you.