Want to be Happier?

What to be Happier? Here's How.

Happiness. Do you chase it? Do you wait for it? And do you know when to fall into its warm, woolly arms and enjoy.

There are a couple of reasons for the elusiveness of happiness:

  1. Although people think they know what will make them happy, their predictions are often inaccurate.
  2. People tend to follow the same path towards happiness over and over, despite not getting the result they want. Mistakes are repeated and when things get hairy, they go back to familiar behavior, regardless of how well that behavior has worked in the past.

New research by Stanford University has found that there is something you can do if you want to be happier – and it’s powerful. It’s all in the way the goals are set – make them concrete rather than abstract. For an extra boost setting and achieving prosocial, benevolent goals will increase happiness even more. 

Setting concrete goals reduces the discrepancy between what you expect around the goal being reached (when, if, how) and the reality. The smaller the gap between expectation and reality, the greater the satisfaction, happiness and well-being.

People tend to have inaccurate expectations about future outcomes, which means that the gap between expectation and reality are often quite wide. The secret to happiness lies in minimising the gap.

When goals are concrete, you’re more likely to know exactly what needs to be done to reach them and when they have been met. Success is measurable.

On the other hand broad, abstract goals will set unrealistic expectations and a confusing, perhaps overwhelming, path towards fulfillment.

When considering how to reach a goal, an abstractly framed goal (‘I want to be healthy’) encourages a focus on the why of the action whereas a concretely framed goal (‘I want to exercise four times a week’) turns the focus more on the details and logistics – the how. 

An abstract goal can be more difficult to assess than a concrete goal. It’s easier to measure how many times you’ve exercised than it is to measure whether you’ve lived a healthy life.

So How Does it Effect Happiness?

The ‘happiness effects’ are due to smaller gaps between the expectations and reality – the expectation of achieving that goal and the real result. A clearly defined goal is easier to achieve than a vague, generalized goal.

It’s more difficult to know when and if a goal has been met if the goal is couched in abstract terms.

Try this:

  • Rather than, ‘I want to improve my marriage’, try ‘I’ll organise a date night once a week.’
  • Rather than, ‘I want to look after the environment’, try ‘I will recycle.’
  • Rather than, ‘I’m going to eat healthier,’ try ‘I’m cutting out sugar from 2pm,’ (because you’ve still gotta live, right?)
  • Rather than, ‘I’m going to be happy,’ try ‘I’m going to have dinner/coffee with at least one friend once a week,’ (because connecting with your tribe amps up happiness)
  • Rather than, I’m going to get to know more people,’ try ‘I’m going to do a cooking class/learn Italian/join cycling group’ (or whatever works for you).

Reframing prosocial goals in more concrete terms allows for more realistic expectations and a greater likelihood of those expectations being met.

In the eternal quest for happiness, the way goals are framed is a critical one and one which, with thought and a small amount of tweaking, can turn the happiness quest from a ‘Lord of the Rings’ style journey to one less daunting and more rewarding.

What will be your goal(s) for the new year? Anything goes. We’d love to hear so feel free to leave a comment down below. You never know who you’ll be inspiring …

[irp posts=”923″ name=”Hardwiring for Happiness. How We Can Change Our Brain, Mind & Personality.”]

One Comment

lynne

Another excellent article, up lifting and very informative, clear, well written and well received.

Sometimes you just have to read something and you go “oh yeah, thats so simple”…l will be making my gaps smaller…..Thank you.

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Adolescence is all about the transition from childhood to adulthood. It can be a confusing time for everyone - not just for our teens but also for the adults who love them. 

Too often, the line between childhood and adulthood can be a blurry one. The expectations of adulthood can come charging at them, but without the freedoms, confidence, or capabilities that adulthood brings. They can feel with such depth and intensity, but without the adult wisdom or experience to make sense of those feelings. 

They’ll be okay, but it might feel wobbly for a while. In the meantime they will look to us for signs of safety and certainty. This doesn’t mean certainty that everything will always be okay - it won’t be - but certainty that they’ll get through, certainty that they are extraordinary, and needed, and that their will be a space and a place in the world that only they can fill.

We might not always feel that certainty. Some days we might ache, and wish we could make their world feel softer for a while. In those times, it will be less about what you do and more about who you are - being the one who can be with them without needing them to be different, the one who can handle any of their hurts or heartaches with gentle, certain hands, the one who can block out the world for a while by letting them rest in our care without needing them to be, or do, or give anything back in return.♥️
For our children, we start building the foundations for adolescence in their earliest years - the relationship we’ll have with them, who they are going to be, how they are going to be. One of the things we’ll want to build is their capacity to know their own minds and be brave enough to use it. This isn’t easy, even for adults, so the more practice we give them, the more they’ll be able to access their strong, brave, beautiful minds when they need to - when we aren’t there.

This means letting them have a say when we can, asking their opinions, and letting them disagree.

When kids and teens argue, they’re communicating. We need to listen, but the need won’t always be obvious. When littles argue because it’s spaghetti for dinner and ‘I hate spaghetti so much’ (even though last week and the 5 years before last week, spaghetti was their favourite), they might be expressing a need for sleep, power and influence, or independence. All are valid. When your teen argues because they want to do something you’ve said no to, the need might be to preserve their felt sense of inclusion with their tribe, or independence from you. Again, all valid. 

Of course, a valid need doesn’t mean it will always be met. Sometimes our needs might need to take priority to theirs, such as our need to keep them safe, or for them to learn that they can still be okay if everything doesn’t go their way, or that sometimes people will have conflicting needs that need to take priority. What’s important is letting them know we hear them and we get it.

It’s going to take time for kids to learn how to argue and express themselves respectfully. In the meantime, the words might be clumsy, loud, angry. This is when we need to hold on to ourselves, meet them where they are, let them know we hear them, and step into our leadership presence. We might give them what they need because it makes sense and because there isn’t enough reason not to. Sometimes, after giving them space to be heard we’ll need to stand our ground. Other times we might solve the problem collaboratively: This is what you want. This is what I want. Let’s talk about how we can we both get what we need.♥️
Anxiety will always tilt our focus to the risks, often at the expense of the very real rewards. It does this to keep us safe. We’re more likely to run into trouble if we miss the potential risks than if we miss the potential gains. 

This means that anxiety will swell just as much in reaction to a real life-threat, as it will to the things that might cause heartache (feels awful, but not life-threatening), but which will more likely come with great rewards. Wholehearted living means actively shifting our awareness to what we have to gain by taking a safe risk. 

Sometimes staying safe will be the exactly right thing to do, but sometimes we need to fight for that important or meaningful thing by hushing the noise of anxiety and moving bravely forward. 

When children or teens are on the edge of brave, but anxiety is pushing them back, ask, ‘But what would it be like if you could?’ ♥️

#parenting #parent #mindfulparenting #childanxiety #positiveparenting #heywarrior #heyawesome
Except I don’t do hungry me or tired me or intolerant me, as, you know … intolerably. Most of the time. Sometimes.
Growth doesn’t always announce itself in ways that feel safe or invited. Often, it can leave us exhausted and confused and with dirt in our pores from the fury of the battle. It is this way for all of us, our children too. 

The truth of it all is that we are all born with a profound and immense capacity to rise through challenges, changes and heartache. There is something else we are born with too, and it is the capacity to add softness, strength, and safety for each other when the movement towards growth feels too big. Not always by finding the answer, but by being it - just by being - safe, warm, vulnerable, real. As it turns out, sometimes, this is the richest source of growth for all of us.

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