In general, we agree that we are the creators of our own happiness, but we would prefer it if it came to us on its own. And those of us who know that this won’t happen secretly hope that if we have to create it ourselves, it won’t cost us too much effort. The recipe for a happy life is largely within ourselves. International research on well-being (which loosely translates as overall perceived life satisfaction) has been evaluating Panama as the country with the best index for several years now. A closer look at why this country continues to rank first reveals that Latin American culture is characterized by a very positive attitude towards life. We don’t always think of happiness as something inherently subjective. We link our feeling of happiness to experiences, finances, and much more. Of course, we cannot deny their impact on our experience of happiness. For example, studies have confirmed that monthly income can indeed have an impact on our experience of happiness. However, there is a limit beyond which happiness no longer increases – despite an increasing income. The good news, however, is that the recipe for happiness really lies in simple things. It is up to us whether we invest a bit of effort into them every day or get swept away by the flow of life. You can find a few tips on how to add happiness to your life through little things in this blog.
It’s very easy to see your life as a series of failures – especially in times of crisis. Just think of your last failure. Your thinking at that time wasn’t just about the situation that made you sad. On the contrary, the key was that you started to doubt yourself. Suddenly, you remember not only the current failure, but all the previous ones. That’s when it’s important to gain a better perspective and broaden your perception of these situations. In every failure, there are many successes that we’re not taught to attach importance to. Looking at your life from above, so to speak, can be challenging.
Try to project yesterday’s day as detailed as possible. If you wrote down the situations of the previous day on paper and then gave someone the opportunity to ask for details about the situations, you could certainly describe everything even more detailed. This is exactly the example that shows how complicated it is to gain perspective on your own life. However, if you involve someone else, they can significantly expand your perspective.
There are ways to gain perspective on your own as well. I know someone who always makes a short note in his calendar at the end of the day about how his day was. Especially during difficult times, this calendar helps him gain a better perspective on his life. If he was happy every day for the past six months, he can see that it is only a temporary period that he must accept as a challenge.
Be grateful for the little things
This is probably the hardest “little thing” on this list. In a time when we don’t have to fight for our basic needs every day, we often forget to be grateful. The more we are used to a certain standard of living, the less we perceive it as a privilege. The fact is that being grateful for the little things can evoke a feeling that we have a lot in our lives. Often this is objectively true, but the pressures of circumstances make us forget it. We can maintain a sense of happiness by trying not to forget these “obvious” things of everyday life. A good way to do this may be to write a journal or recap at the end of the day. In addition to increasing sensitivity to the little things, this habit also has a positive effect on memory.
In the old prayer of Thomas Aquinas, we read: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Regardless of our beliefs, we can find great wisdom in this short prayer. Motivational speakers, the media, and often our parents constantly push us to believe that if we try hard enough, we can do anything in the world. Unfortunately, it’s not quite like that. There’s nothing unhealthy about knowing our limits and boundaries. It’s perfectly normal if not everyone is a millionaire, a top athlete, or a musical virtuoso. This does not mean that we should not try to achieve our maximum potential in life. Everyone has the potential to live a happy life. However, how we are able to accept reality is closely related to this. Sooner or later, everyone will encounter a situation in life that they cannot handle. It is crucial for experiencing happiness to be able to realistically accept and process these moments of failure in a healthy way. Otherwise, we risk fighting windmills and accumulating frustration from not being able to change what is beyond our control.
Invest in relationships
Especially when starting our first job, many of us build a habit of protecting our time for work more than our time for loved ones. In a situation where we fear for our job, such behavior is understandable, but in the long run, it can jeopardize our sense of happiness. Hard work and performance are highly valued in our society, and close relationships are taken for granted – after all, everyone has a close friend. Maintaining a good relationship with loved ones should therefore be simple. However, the fact is that the less time and activities we direct towards our loved ones, the harder it is to maintain relationships of such quality that they bring us a sense of happiness.
The well-known book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by author Bronnie Ware, who has been involved in palliative care for years, says that one of the things that brought tears to the eyes of dying people was that they worked too much at the expense of relationships.
Relationships are, in fact, an important, if not the most important, part of our lives. Thanks to our parents’ relationship, our own life was created, and a relationship was important for our survival at the beginning of life, and one of the most intense life needs is the need to have good relationships and belong somewhere. It is therefore evident that relationships are something central to our lives and also hold the key to happiness.
Step out of yourself
The last tip for a happy life could also be loosely translated as “be empathetic”. Being able to see the world through the eyes of others, to understand them, and to recognize that the world can look completely different from their perspective requires a great deal of mindfulness. Constantly including the perspectives of others in our own perception can be challenging, but it allows us to be much more open to the needs of others. And it is precisely when we respond to these needs that we find deeper meaning in our own lives and experience happiness. However, it is not always possible to understand the perspective of another person. Sometimes, despite our efforts, people’s actions and thoughts may seem senseless, leading us to shake our heads in frustration or even anger. In such situations, it is even more important to step out of ourselves. Accepting understandable behavior is mature and often beneficial, but accepting incomprehensible behavior requires a great deal of tolerance and humility. Here, too, it is useful to try to gain perspective on life. Time can sometimes give meaning to such situations.