Sorrow, distress, depression, and grief are the things that make life burdensome. We all want to be happy. But the trick is understanding how to attain it and make it last.
When we’re faced with more than we can bear and lose our internal sense of joy, it can feel like happiness is entirely beyond our reach.
So, is it possible to learn how to be happy again?
This is perhaps the most sought after question in the history of humankind.
We all ask this question as we constantly search for happiness in our lives.
So, what is happiness, really? And how can we find lasting happiness in our lives?
To uncover the secrets of happiness we looked into what Kristina Lakhiani, Co-Founder of Mindvalley, has to say about learning how to be happy again in this Mindvalley podcast.
How Happiness Set Points Work
According to Kristina, we all have a set point or a default level of happiness.
Our happiness level goes up or down from that set point depending on what good or bad circumstances are happening in our lives. In time, it becomes a stable set point.
And that’s one of the things that is barring us from becoming increasingly happier.
We have no idea how to raise our default level of happiness. But Kristina tells us that if we want to achieve happiness that lasts throughout our lifetime, we must learn to alter our happiness set point.
Hedonistic adaptation is the danger of short-term gratification
In the present day culture of consumerism, we often look for various short-term methods to feel better or happier.
We have our own methods of bringing ourselves up whenever we feel down or rejected.
These methods can be things that serve us, like talking a walk, meditating, or talking to a friend. But these methods can also be destructive, like resorting to drugs or alcohol.
But no matter good or bad, these methods only elevate our happiness temporarily. We always return to our set points.
This general nature of human happiness is called hedonistic adaptation.
So, we have to look for strategies that have a long term effect in raising the default level of our happiness. This is called hacking the hedonistic adaptation.
And luckily, Kristina has six strategies to impart! But among the six, there’s one with the highest correlation to long-term happiness.
The #1 Long-Term Happiness Strategy: Strong Relationships
We are social beings and we can’t live alone, we all know that.
But did you know how impactful and meaningful our social relationships are in terms of happiness?
It is the #1 most important element if you’re trying to learn how to be happy again.
“The number one correlation with happiness is in your social connections,” says Kristina. And this is backed by science.
The research she cites is a 75-year long Harvard study led by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger that found out that feeling connected to the people around you is truly what makes people happy.
People in relationships are healthier, heal better, and live longer. And for those without meaningful social connections, the opposite is also true.
Social isolation is the number one killer as it takes away the ability to heal from life-threatening diseases, Kristina says.
But many of us struggle to accept this simple truth that our happiness depends on others.
Accepting social connections
We refuse to connect with others due to the risk of being unhappy. We fear the sadness that we will feel if we’re rejected. We fear the grief of loss should something happen to the people we love.
But Kristina says that we have to accept the fact that we will feel sad. This is a natural part of life and a natural human emotion.
And in the end, the risk of sadness is well worth the long-term benefits. The benefits of social connections far outweigh the potential pitfalls.
So, you have to surround yourself with people you love.
Never be afraid to connect with others, as it’s the most surefire way to raise your happiness set point.
5 Major Strategies To Raise Your Happiness Set Point
When it comes to understanding what makes people happy, social connections are number one. But apart from this, Kristina also talks about 5 other major strategies to raise your happiness set point—permanently.
Here are five ways you can begin to alter your set point for long-term happiness.
Research indicates that if you practice gratitude on a daily basis for 30 days, your perception of your own happiness goes up 25%.
So, this is really something very useful and magical.
Kristina suggests practicing the 6-Phase Meditation Quest to reap the benefits of gratitude.
2. Being present
A major part of our chronic unhappiness comes from anxiety about the future or guilt and regret of the past.
So, what makes people happy is the ability to be in the moment, as Kristina illustrates when she refers to the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Practicing consciousness and trying to be more present does wonders over time, as true pure joy can only be found in the present moment.
Another essential element of happiness is self-love, yet it is not given proper attention by many of us. Almost all the bad things that we do to other people is because we don’t truly love ourselves.
If we truly love and accept ourselves, we don’t really need to prove anything to anyone. We don’t need to prove anyone wrong.
So, we need to work hard to accept and love ourselves in order to become happier in the long-term.
4. Dealing with the negatives
You can only truly appreciate spring if you have survived the winter, Kristina says.
So, what makes people happy is the ability to deal with the negatives in the right way.
The art of learning to be happy is not to ignore or not notice the negative or to be okay with the negative. It is actually to learn to work with it, says Kristina.
She also explains how to avoid bypassing the negatives and to truly be truly at peace with life’s challenges in the podcast.
The last of her 5 strategies to elevate happiness for the long-term is practicing forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not a practice for anyone else but you. If you are angry at someone or want to punish someone, then who is the one really feeling those negative emotions?
Being upset with some is like poison, the only person suffering is you, says Kristina.
Most people think that learning is the key to self-developmentIt’s how we were raised – when we were young, we studied algebra, read history, and memorized the names of elements on the periodic table.
But once you grow up and experience life, you realize that you can’t ‘learn certain things – like personal growth.
Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley and New York Times Bestselling author, discovered that the key to self-development was not to ‘learn’, but rather, to ‘transform’.
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What makes people happy in your opinion? Please, share with us in a comment below!