10 Steps to Happiness

As appeared in the Daily Express

Robert Holden, Ph.D
The DAILY EXPRESS published an article today, “10 Steps to Happiness“, that outlines my ten tips for facing blue Monday, the economic recession, and for rediscovering your joyful side. Here is the article in full. Enjoy.

UNTIL recently psychologists dismissed happiness as a “pleasurable emotion with no evolutionary value”. The theory was happiness feels good but it isn’t useful. However research reveals happiness has a powerful effect on the brain that helps you to think broadly, to come up with creative solutions and makes you generally more resilient.

In short happiness helps you to bring out the best in yourself. Follow my tips below to rediscover your joyful side.

1 The Big Re-think

Real, enduring happiness cannot be bought. Research confirms that money is important for basic needs like food, rent and clothes. However the link between higher income and increased happiness has been described in one study as “surprisingly weak” and “virtually negligible”. In fact a third of all millionaires are less happy than the national average.

2 Have a Reality Check

Work out what is truly important to you. Research shows people with consistently high happiness scores prioritise their life according to the things they value. They’ve worked out what is most important to them and don’t allow themselves to get sidetracked.

3 Do you Need More?

In recent decades our purchasing power has more than doubled which means we can afford to buy more stuff than ever and yet more stuff hasn’t made us happier.

To be happy you have to know what you really want. After all, you can never have enough of what you didn’t want in the first place. True happiness isn’t a thing or a commodity, it’s something you cultivate and share.

4 Discover Life’s Riches

Money is important but it is not everything. Make a list of everything in your life that is more precious to you than money. Think also about everything you already have that money can’t buy. Obvious examples are family, friends, health, laughter, creative hobbies, your imagination and spirituality.

5 Be Positive

Research shows that life circumstances influence your happiness by only 10 per cent in the long-term. Obviously life events have a short-term effect. A loss of job or divorce can be devastating. Winning the lottery or falling in love can be wonderful at least initially but the key to being happy in the long?term is not circumstances but attitude. Set an intention to enjoy today 10 per cent more than yesterday. Back up your intention with three specific actions like calling a friend, smiling more and doing something you love.

6 Treasure Relationships

Investing time, energy and attention in your most important relationships will increase your happiness. A recent study confirms that having rich and satisfying social relationships is the key difference between people who are quite happy and those who are very happy.

7 Make Time for Fun

Most of us are so preoccupied with life’s chores that we can sometimes forget to enjoy ourselves. Make a commitment to having fun. See your best friends and make time for your hobbies and passions.

8 Count Your Blessings

Keep a gratitude journal. Write down at least three things a day you are either thankful for, made you smile or genuinely inspired you.

9 Have Faith

People who have a strong spiritual faith report greater than average happiness. Research shows practices like meditation, prayer, yoga and tai chi can help you to de-stress and feel more balanced. Most importantly, a spiritual faith encourages us to look past our individual egos.

10 Look After Yourself

To be happy you must never compromise on your health. Getting enough exercise and sleep and eating a healthy diet will improve your mood and energy levels.

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