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How to: Be Happy

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Happiness is defined by the Webster dictionary as “a state of well-being and contentment.” In truth, happiness comes in different forms – from feeling calm to exuberant euphoria. While there is no golden ticket to happiness, there are plenty of ways to see happiness in your life and ways to make changes to feel happier. 

Oftentimes people think of happiness as an end-all goal or achievement – maybe a medal, award, or grade – but in reality happiness is a mindset achieved through positive thinking about even the little things of life. 

Let’s face it: no one person is going to be happy all the time, and aiming for that is a sure path to disappointment and frustration. Life throws a lot of curve balls that require grit and effort to survive. Rather than using an “I have to do this” mindset, changing to an “I get to do this” mindset is extremely important. 

Even if life is far from perfect, aiming to be grateful for the things you get to do and for small achievements in life is a better way of looking at things rather than moping around. “I think happiness is often a choice and requires people to do some internal work to manage their emotions and learn strategies to live at peace, understanding that life is not going to be all sunshine and rainbows,” said Maine West  school psychologist Nora Feyerer. It’s important “to find ways to focus on all the good we have in our lives.”

Practicing gratitude by using meditation is a helpful way to see all the good there is in one’s life. Taking the time to breathe and realize within yourself all the great things around you is a key to seeing all the happiness in your life, 

According to Feyerer, surrounding yourself with a safe atmosphere – through the people you spend time with and the things you do with your time – is also another key contributor to achieving your individualized happiness. 

Even if everything in life isn’t going perfectly, happiness is about “being at peace with where you are at that moment in life and embracing the beauty of life,” Feyerer said.

There are times, however, when it’s natural and right to feel anxious, angry, depressed, or stressed, but there are ways to approach and handle those feelings. “I like to think of myself as a glass half-full type of person. I try to teach that while you may have had a really bad day, there was at least one good thing,” guidance counselor Allyson Adams said.  “One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”

According to research conducted at University of California Berkeley, a daily written “gratitude journal” can help change a person’s feelings about life even if the events themselves aren’t changing.  “While it’s important to learn from bad events, sometimes we can think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. A gratitude journal forces ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life,” according to the UC-Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. Because of this, “the emotional tone of our life can shift in profound ways. What’s more, actually writing about these events is key. Don’t just do this exercise in your head. Research suggests translating thoughts into concrete language makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.”

While there are plenty of ways to be happy, humans benefit from feeling purposeful. . “I find that, outside of people making me happy, finding something to work towards makes me so much more grateful and happy in my life,” said junior Ksenia Peric. There will always be lows, but there will also always be highs. You shouldn’t have to fake a smile, but often looking at the positive is better than dwelling on the negative. “There are two things that I believe correlate with whether you are happy or not,” Peric said. “One: the people you surround yourself with are a direct influence on who you are. If they have constant negative thoughts about their days, their lives, then so will you. If you’re surrounded by bad, you’re going to feel bad thoughts and emotions. Two: you need to have a good mindset, a motivation that pushes you through your life to accomplish your dreams because you need to want to be happy,” Peric said.

Simply, “when you can, look on the bright side,” Adams said . 

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