3 Steps To Happiness

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Don’t Just Decrease Sadness, Increase Happiness

BY NATALIE KATALINIC

Happiness isn’t just the absence of sadness yet so much of the time we focus on reducing the negative things in our lives: negative feelings like sadness, negative thinking patterns like catastrophising, negative behaviours like procrastination, negative relationships, etc. But true happiness isn’t just about reducing negative experiences, it’s about actively seeking positive experiences as well.

Are you trying to be happy or less sad?

Are you trying to be happy or less sad?

Think of your positive and negative experiences like marbles in a jar – with red marbles being the positive experiences you have, and blue the negative. Lets say that sadness is the result of your jar being full of blue marbles. Even if you halve the number of blue marbles in your jar, you’ll still feel sad because there are no red marbles to balance it out. But if you make sure your jar has a mix of red and blue marbles, your chance of happiness increases. Red marbles mean you can still be happy, even when you’re faced with challenges.

There’s nothing wrong with reducing the negative things in your life, but make sure you take steps to increase your positive experiences as well. Here’s 3 tips to get you started.

Happiness Tip #1: Positive Affirmations

How you think affects how you feel. Negative thinking patterns can increase your vulnerability for low mood and stress, but the opposite is also true. Positive affirmations can boost your happiness and your confidence. If affirmations like ‘I am great’ feel unnatural and hard to believe, start with more neutral affirmations like ‘I am enough’. Neutral affirmations might still feel unnatural, but your belief in them will grow with repetition.

Happiness Tip #2: Practice Gratitude

We spend a lot of time focusing on what we don’t have or experiences we’re faced with that we don’t deserve, but we rarely focus on what we DO have. Practicing gratitude can be humbling, it can increase your happiness, and it can positively influence your health in general. Start small, be grateful for little things like sunshine or running water, then as you get better at noticing the positives, be grateful for the bigger things in your life as well.

Happiness Tip #3: Random Acts of Kindness

Being kind to others triggers a cascade of positive effects. It can make you feel generous, capable, and connected to others, and the positive reactions acts of kindness elicit in others – smiles, words of appreciation – can increase your happiness as well.

Natalie is a warm and compassionate registered psychologist with a Masters of Clinical Psychology degree who is experienced in various evidence-based therapeutic modalities, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She specialises in working with adults and teens experiencing major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, grief and loss, identity concerns, relationship difficulties, and stressful life events in general.


 

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