Everyone wants to be happy – yet so many are unhappy in their lives.
While some people are more pessimistic by nature, despite this, they can become happy.
To experience happiness, we must learn to take charge of all our experiences – from adversity to everyday changes, challenges to losses. The way we adapt is by resilience – or the capacity to adjust successfully in the face of catastrophe and stress.
Psychologists now recognise that the skills humans use to adapt and overcome risk, is a direct path to happiness.
How do We Create Resilience?
Creating resilience includes:
- fostering close relationships with friends and family;
- a positive view of your world;
- the ability to manage strong feelings;
- good problem-solving and communication skills.
Resilience also includes seeking help and resources, and knowing when you need help. The resilient person avoids being a victim, and learns to cope with stress in healthy ways.
Those who have the close relationships and social support to help them through times of adversity, experience joy and satisfaction in everyday life. If you do projects well and jump over those adversities, your natural joie de vivre (joy of living) will overcome pessimism. Maintain a cheering section of people who know you.
What is Happiness?
Happiness is more than just feeling happy emotions rather than sad ones.
It means finding satisfaction and meaning – when you reflect on a project well done, or what you have done in your life. Finding positive meaning in your life, and losing yourself in helping others, help to build happiness.
Happiness does not mean a life free from adversity; in fact, most happy people have as many negative experiences as those who claim they are unhappy. Positive and happy people however, realise that happiness fuels the motivation to grow and endure in hard times.
Boosting your Resilience and Happiness
Make a point of finding five positive thoughts, emotions or comments, to every one negative comment. You will discover you are doing quite well and can handle tragedy and calamity, pain and sorrow.
Those who have more negative than positive comments do not cope very well during stress and distress. On the flip side, those who are only positive, do not adjust well either. The most well-adjusted people are those who acknowledge the difficulties of their situation, avoid being overwhelmed by their emotions, and work to regain balance and equilibrium.
Positive emotions are fuel for resilience. Positivity is the help people need when trying to find meaning in ordinary as well as difficult events. Finding meaning leads to happier emotions, that in turn lead to a greater ability to overcome difficult issues. Find the humour in difficulty, realise that there are no coincidences and learn to live with what life hands you. Happiness and resilience will take you far and bring you positive events.
Resilient people feel as many negative emotions as less happy people, but they find the positive reasons and emotions that get them through the troubled times. They are better able to:
- rebound from adversity;
- ward off stress;
- move from depression to happiness;
- and continue to learn.
The increase in happiness comes from feeling upbeat, and not necessarily from avoiding negative or bad feelings.
No one is immune to problems and adversity, but everyone can carry on with resilience and find the path to happiness.
Author: Nenad Bakaj, MHumServ(RehabCouns), BSocWk, DipAppSci(Comm&HumServ), AMHSW, AAC, MAASW.
Nenad Bakaj is a Brisbane based Rehabilitation Counsellor, Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and Life Coach with a keen interest in positive psychology, mental health and wellbeing, and is continually developing his professional skills and knowledge. Nenad enjoys working with adolescents and young adults, as well as older clients, and feels it is a privilege to be able to support them. In the counselling room, Nenad aims to build rapport with his clients to assist them to reach their health, relationship, personal and life goals, and a happy and fruitful life.
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