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Happiness in Action

Last week I discussed the origins of happiness. This week I’d like to focus on ways to create happiness. Many of my patients find happiness elusive and difficult to sustain.  Happiness requires action and intention.   In her book, “The How of Happiness,” psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky shares several different ways to experience happiness and many of her suggestions fit with my approach to therapy.  Happiness flows from one’s attitude, thinking, and perceptions of life.  In other words, focusing on what we have rather than what we don’t (gratitude), seeing the glass as half full (optimism), and generating positive self-statements all contribute to happiness building.  In my practice I constantly encourage patients to build on social connections, practice giving to others, and let go of emotional pain through forgiveness which increases their level of joy.  Creating happiness comes from establishing goals, objectives, and purpose for your life.  I recently heard that longevity is also connected to having purpose/meaning in life and deep social connections.  Living in the present (today) and savoring every moment creates more happiness.  The past is history, the future a mystery, and the present is a gift.  Lastly, take care of yourself both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Remember, you teach others how to treat/love you by the way you treat/love yourself.  We often know what’s good for us, but doing it is hard work.  Make a commitment to yourself to incorporate some of these happiness boosters and observe how your attitude towards life changes.

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