Happy people live longer, are healthier, form better relationships and enjoy greater success, says Averil Leimon. So, what is the secret to happiness?

Pause for just a moment. Ask yourself this question. Are you happy? Yes or No? Few people have difficulty answering. We all know what happiness is. We know when we are experiencing it. We actively pursue it. But are we doing the right things to increase happiness? As the world has become more materialistic, the assumption has been that `more’ will make us happy. More money, more possessions, more gadgets all seem like the route to happiness, but they often fail to make that feel good factor happen. The law of diminishing returns sets in. Sometimes having more can feel like a burden rather than a joy. Especially, where it leads to more debt and anxiety.

This leads to the question- are we getting it right?

The Routes to Happiness
There are three basic routes:
1. The Pleasant Life
Have and enjoy a pleasant life. Revel in ordinary pleasures. In busy, materialistic worlds, people rarely take the time to savour their sorroundings and experiences.
2. The Engaged Life
Know and use your personal strengths to be truly absorbed in the work you do. Career success can sometimes take us away from using our key strengths- the ones where you become so absorbed that you do not notice time passing. Discover what these strenths are and find ways of using them daily.
3. The Meaningful life
Ensure that you are somehow making a difference to the world as a whole and that you can see your part in it.


To be truly happy, you need to live better in the past, present and the future.

i) Let go of past grievances
Forgiveness is much healthier. Forgive people with generosity of the spirit. In some instances, you need to sort things out, but often you can just choose to let go.

ii) Be grateful for all that has gone right in your life.
It so outweighs the bad stuff. Think about all the people that have cared, influenced, mentored you in your life and career. Have you made a point of telling them exactly how important they are? Do you regularly let loved ones know they are appreciated? Research shows that expressing gratitude makes both the giver and the receiver experience higher well-being.

iii) Count your blessings
Notice what went right today, rather than always and exclusively dwelling on the mistakes and problems. Make sure your view is balanced and that you delight in your successes at least as much as you notice your failures.

iv) Spend time in the present.
Dance in the moment, truly experiencing what you are doing and where you are. Always make time to appreciate some aspects of your sorroundings.

v) Future mindedness is essential to success in your business and personal life.
Optimism is a key to happiness. Optimists appear to be simply happier than others, but actually they put in hard graft while the pessimists give up without really trying. Catch your thinking and improve your tendencies of you predicting that it will go right.

So, the good news is, it is in your hands! Although you may start out more or less happier than others, there is always scope for improving your happiness levels. It is vital to do so in order to live a full, healthy, successful and satisfying life. The ways to happiness are on the one hand profound and on the other, really simple. So get out there and live your life to the full.

(Courtesy of Msafiri Magazine, Issue 58)

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