How to be Happy

Is happy news good?

As a psychotherapist I have worked with thousands and thousands of people as individuals, couples and, groups. There have been those that are naturally happy and positive and those who see the world from a negative point of view. Over the years I have learned what it is that makes happy people happy and unhappy people unhappy. Happy people do certain things in certain ways. It is all in how they focus their thoughts and feelings.

It would seem obvious that we would, or should, be attracted to good news. Yet what we see is that “bad news becomes good news” because that is what sells newspapers. Good newspapers commonly only last for about three episodes.

Today in the podcast we were celebrating the third episode of The Happy News Paper,. Both Ed and I hope that it will keep going for many more episodes. We hope to have its founder and inspiration designer Emily Coxhead on the podcast. We highly recommend that you check out Emily and her work with the happy newspaper.

What makes you happy? It is good to review what it is that makes us happy. The Live In The Present book seeks to change the negative into the positive, like an alchemist turning lead into gold. It explains how happiness is a choice. Here are some ideas about happiness.

Positive body image
Happy people move their bodies. Exercise is not necessarily formal, you don’t have to go to the gym or play an organised sport. Taking a walk around the block, taking the stairs and not the lift, having a run or jog rather than walking and walking short distances rather than taking the car or the bus, are all forms of exercise. There are two important benefits that come from exercise. The first is that you don’t build up weight and that keeps your heart, lungs, muscles and joints healthy. The second is that people who move their bodies have higher levels of happy hormones, endorphins, in their brains that make them feel happier. If you are really game for a laugh you can attend a gym, go for more formal cycle rides and runs, walks and rambles, Zumba, Salsa and so on. Moving your body makes you happier.

Who are your friends?
Happy people build powerful social relationships. Human beings are group animals. Just like monkeys and chimpanzees we identify with being part of a group, tribe or family. Having mates and friends gives us a sense of belonging, value and support. We have people to talk to, people to share our problems with, people who will support and care for us. As the world has industrialised and the large extended families have broken into smaller nuclear family units the rate of depression and anxiety have dramatically increased. The W.H.O. is predicting that by 2020 depression could be the second most common cause of death. We know that people living alone, especially men, die younger. Having friends and strong social relationships makes you happier.

When did you last have a challenge?
Happy people do things that challenge who they are. Your brain and your mind are designed to be creative. It is this part of human consciousness that has powered all of evolution. Having a challenge keeps your brain awake.

Gratitude does your body and mind good.
It helps you cope with trauma and stress. Being grateful can increases your sense of self-worth and self-esteem and helps dissolve negative emotions and strengthens the immune system. An attitude of gratitude leads to happy people that overcome pessimistic thinking in three ways, focusing their time on positive energy and thinking in the knowledge that all things pass and no situation however difficult lasts for ever.
Gratitude creates happiness

Mindfulness leads to positive attitudes.
Mindful people develop healthy coping strategies, encounter stressful issues positively. Happy people become skilled at seeing the good that might come from challenging times. Mindful people take care of their mind and body and manage their stress. Mindfulness helps you focus on what you really want.

Most importantly, what you feed grows and what you starve dies. If you read bad news papers your focus will be on the negative. If you choose to read good news your focus will be on the positive.

Thoughts become things, what you think about you bring about.

Many people who wake up to the negativity that is in regular news stop listening to news broadcasts and reading newspapers altogether. My stance is that I need to be informed but not inundated with negative messages. And, I like to tune into some good news because it makes me happy.

What do you choose to focus on? Positivity is a choice.

Take care and be happy

Sean X