It is widely acknowledged that “happiness” will contribute positively to your mental health, now the evidence is in, it also contributes positively to your physical health; healthier hearts, immune systems and even longer lives.
If you want the detail here is an article from Berkeley University outlines 6 specific scientific studies that scientifically demonstrate the link between “happiness” and improved physical health.
If you want to pursue the improved health benefits, we require a shared understanding of what it means to be “happy”, be happy enough.
The Wikipedia psychology definition is:
“happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.”
It is a definition but this definition only looks at one half of how psychologists define “happiness”, as you may expect psychologists define happiness with reference to Greek philosophers, in this case Aristippus and Aristotle.
Wikipedia definition takes in the Hedonic view of happiness; a focus on emotion, feelings of pleasure v pain. The another element to the psychologists definition is the Eudaimonic view of happiness. Eudaimonic happiness focuses on a person’s satisfaction with their life, their sense of purpose and meaning in life, their perceived progress on their path of self-actualization. Using the combined perspectives, psychologists often refer to this definition of happiness as “subjective wellbeing”.
You can see that “happiness” is therefore not about constantly being in a state of joy. The scientific definition of “happiness” covers a range of emotions that start at a calm passive level of plain contentment or satisfaction – to gain all the mental and physical health benefits of “happiness” you can just start with increasing your focus on the things you are satisfied with, the things that you are contented with, the things that are just fine, OK. You do not even need to have achieved your goals to get the mental and physical benefits of “happiness”, just spend more time appreciating the progress you have made.
Here is a video with Sonja Lyubomirsky (University of California ) exploring this concept.
Your glass may appear to be only half-full, yet this definition of happiness tells you that is more than enough. More than enough to get the health return on investment.
To start growing the health benefits of “happiness” consider spending more time each day with a focus on the half-full side of the glass; do not deny the empty half, just spend a little more time thinking about and appreciating what there is in your life that you are already satisfied with.
We are launching a few tools and will have give-aways this month to help you focus more on the part of your glass that is already full. There will also be more later this month on #ThePositive Ratio.
To get the health benefits of “happiness” in your life, you do not need to eradicate the negative from your life, or worse start pretending that it does not exist. #ThePositive is about countering our natural propensity to amplify the negative by consciously increasing the time we are appreciating #ThePositive.
If you would like to learn more about how to approach your change project in a way that empowers and inspires check out some of #ThePositive Change interventions and case studies outlined in the #change and the #tools sections of this website.