Many people believe that happiness is a mental state that results when they achieve certain things that may be outside of their control. They think that if they have a lot of money, a good relationship with their significant other or a job then they will be happy. While that may be true, everyone isn’t lucky enough to have what they think is necessary to be happy. But they can be happy anyway.
Just ask the folks at The Happiness Initiative, an organization that promotes happiness as a way of life. Not only can they tell you how you can foster a sense of happiness, but they’ve created a Happiness Index Survey that takes about 12 minutes to complete and will indicate exactly where you stand in comparison to the average U.S. citizen in terms of various areas of happiness and well being, as well as your overall satisfaction with life.
After taking the survey and finding out where you stand – or even if you don’t want to take it – you can explore the organization’s website to find various ways to improve your happiness and well being through doing such things as balancing your time, establishing new friendships, getting better nutrition, sharing with friends and neighbors or learning new skills.
In the meantime, here are three things you can do every day to improve your happiness:
- Sit silently for five minutes. Sit in true silence with no radio or television noise in the background and cell phone turned off. Close your eyes and observe your thoughts in a nonjudgmental manner. When your mind ventures to memories of the past or thoughts about the future, gently escort it back to the present. Concentrating on your breathing can help you accomplish this.
- Practice gratitude. At least once or preferably twice – morning and evening – list five things that you are thankful for. It might be the delicious cup of coffee you just drank, the good night’s sleep you had, the wonderful dinner your friend made for you or the fact that you made 20 cold calls to potential employers that day.
- Practice random acts of kindness. Every day give something to someone in their presence so they know that it was you who gave it. This can be something small like a smile or saying thank you to a cashier or something that takes more effort like delivering a meal to an elderly neighbor who is sick. Once every month or two – try to make a conscious effort to schedule it – volunteer with a local organization to do something to improve your community.
These ideas and many more like it can be found on the website of the Happiness Initiative, which was originally launched by nonprofit Sustainable Seattle to measure well being as an alternative to gross domestic product (GDP). It is now a national organization doing work inspired by the efforts of the nation of Bhutan to create gross national happiness (GNH), a measurement used instead of GDP to measure progress, and an approach that is gaining interest among communities, countries and organizations around the world.
For more information, visit The Happiness Initiative.
The Happiness Initiative sponsors webinars on how people and cities can create a sense of happiness and conducts leadership training to teach people how to conduct a happiness initiative in their city, community, business or other organization.