“Money can’t buy happiness” - it’s a saying we’ve all heard, but how true is it? According to research conducted by the London School of Economics, eliminating world poverty would increase happiness by only 5%, whereas eliminating mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, would improve happiness by a significant 20%. Interestingly, increases in income and education have little effect on the overall happiness of the population as it’s compared to the prevailing norm (in Australia, Britain, Germany and the United States, average happiness has failed to rise since records began, despite massive increases in living standards).
The strongest factor predicting an adult’s happy life is not their qualifications, but their emotional health, and it begins in childhood. This therefore means a child’s schooling has a massive influence on their emotional wellbeing.
But that does not mean that if you aren’t happy by the time you reach adulthood all is lost - not in the contrary. It is possible to learn methods and adopt strategies to encourage happiness at any time of life. It may not happen overnight, but the sooner you start, the longer you’ll have to be happy.
It begins with consciously choosing attitudes and behaviours that lead to happiness over unhappiness. It’s about reprogramming your beliefs and values, adopting self-management skills, good interpersonal skills and choosing to be in positive environments around people that increase your probability of happiness. Sometimes it may mean identifying your own negative thoughts and realising that you can change them. For example, if you realise you’re becoming short-tempered, recognising it and consciously adopting patience. The more frequently little changes in day-to-day life are adopted, the sooner they become second nature, and the negative habits become positive.
Some strategies to help encourage happiness are:
Cultivate gratitude: List a few things that make you feel grateful. This shifts thoughts away from bitterness and despair and promotes happiness
Foster forgiveness: Holding a grudge hurts no one but yourself - it’s like taking poison and hoping your foe dies. When you learn to foster forgiveness, you reclaim the power another person had over you, as well as removing feelings of bitterness and resentment and makes room for happiness
Consciously counter negative thoughts: Be aware when your thoughts and reactions turn negative. Try to consciously move away from the negativity and replace it with something more positive. Sometimes it might be better to take a walk, meditate or practise yoga while the negativity dissipates.
Remember money doesn’t buy happiness: There is a short burst of happiness that hits the brain with the purchase of something new - that’s what marketeers feed on - but it’s just that, short-lived. Don’t assume that because something doesn’t bring long-term happiness it’s the wrong thing, and that the right thing is another purchase away. Realise that the pursuit itself is what’s futile. Enjoy your purchases, but recognise they’ll never bring an enduring state of happiness.
Foster friendships: The best antidote to unhappiness is a close, meaningful friendship with people who care about you. While we may have hundreds of connections on our social media apps, it’s the people with whom we have a close bond that will bring happiness - give them your attention and it will be returned.
Engage in meaningful activities: We all know how joyful activities can be when we’ve found a ‘flow’ and we become completely absorbed in the activity. This is rarely - if ever - found it watching television but often discovered in hobbies.
Happiness can be a choice, and not just luck. Start making some small adjustments to your life today, and you may be surprised at how much happier you become.
Gain a deep understanding of your own real emotional needs, find out where your needs are being met, but importantly discover the ways in which you can better your resilience, your wellbeing, your health and your happiness with Better.
- Emotional needs check
- Life made better audios
- Talk to someone
- Guided walking
- Calm your breathing
- Better sleep audios
- Find a therapist