Happiness

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

What Is Happiness?

Happiness means different things to different people but is generally associated with being in a good mood and feeling positive emotions. We broadly define happiness as “a state of contentment and general satisfaction with life”. The state part is particularly important as it demonstrates that happiness is not permanent, but rather something that changes over time and in response to different situations.  

Everyone has bad days, that is just a normal part of human life. However, when the bad days start outweighing the good, it can have a detrimental effect on our relationships, our careers and on our physical and mental health.

Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies we can use on a daily basis to help us identify the areas of our life where we are unhappy and take positive action towards improving them. Raising our happiness level is important as having high happiness and life satisfaction is linked to various personal, social and occupational outcomes.

This module will guide you through three steps that are important to improving your happiness. Alongside explanations, you will be given practical tools you can use to complete each step and work on being happier. 

Understanding Your MyMynd Happiness Score

Optimal

An optimal score suggests that you are highly satisfied in life and are likely experiencing no significant distress. Your strategies for achieving happiness are varied and appropriate. You may want to explore this module in order to maintain good functioning.

Satisfactory

A satisfactory score suggests that you are fairly satisfied in life, perhaps experiencing some mild distress. You are not necessarily excelling either at work or in your personal life but are performing well enough. You may want to explore this module in order to work on those aspects where you are underperforming.

Moderate Concern

A moderate concern score suggests that you are sometimes satisfied in life but that you experience periods of significant distress. This may have started to impact both your work and personal lives. We recommend exploring this module in order to work on those aspects where you are struggling.

At Risk

An at risk score suggests that you are rarely satisfied in life and that you experience frequent and significant distress. It is likely that this has had a negative impact on both your work and personal lives. We recommend exploring this module in order to work on those aspects where you are struggling and to seek help from your GP/listed helplines if needed.

Why Working On Your Happiness Is Important

Aside from the fact that it feels good to be happy, being happy is also good for you.

Happier people benefit from:

Improved Health

Better Relationships

Increased Productivity

Increased Ability To Adapt

How Can You Be Happier?

Research suggests that happiness is the product of two things:

– Your interactions with the outside world

– Your internal thoughts and attitudes towards life

Both of these things are shaped by your upbringing and by the knowledge you acquire through life experience. However, it is important to remember that these things are not fixed. You have the ability to change how you interact with the world around you and with yourself in order to lead a happier life.

You can do this in three steps:

Step 1: Awareness

By paying attention to the things in your life that make you happy as well as the things that make you unhappy, you can begin to identify what you need to change.

Step 2: Changing Perspective

By looking at situations or events from a different perspective you can start to change the way you think about them and come up with strategies for how to handle them more positively in the future.

Step 3: Finding Meaning And Purpose In Life

By setting goals for yourself and engaging in activities that are valuable and important to you, you simultaneously give your life meaning and increase your self-worth, turning the life you want into the life you have.

By understanding these stages and using relevant strategies, you can learn how to increase your happiness, look at challenging situations from a different perspective and achieve your goals, even when obstacles get in your way.

Tools To Increase Your Happiness

Wheel Of Happiness

A simple tool that allows you to visualise all the important areas of your life.

Gratitude Journal

A diary for recording and reflecting on things which you are grateful for.

The Gratitude Jar

A simpler and more artistic alternative tool to writing a gratitude journal.

Positive Affirmations

Positive statements that help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts.

Daily Do Goods

Actions that you perform during the day, all in the spirit of doing something nice for someone else.

Self-Care Assessment

A simple tool that allows you to learn about your self-care needs and to implement change. 

Wheel Of Happiness

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Awareness

15 Minutes

Starter

Visual

The wheel of happiness is a simple tool that allows you to visualise all the important areas of your life at once. In doing so, the wheel helps you to identify which areas you are happiest in and which need more work.

Completing the wheel is a good starting point for improving happiness as it allows you to gain some insight into the balance of your life and to start thinking about why your wheel looks the way it does, what you would like your wheel to look like and how to make it happen.

You can use and print the PDF in the Download Materials or draw your own wheel of happiness.

1. If drawing, draw a circle and divide it into 8 wedges.

2. Label each wedge so that all the important areas of your life are represented.

3. Assign each wedge a score from 1-10 that reflects your current level of fulfilment in that area:

(1 = extremely unfulfilled)

(10 = extremely fulfilled)

4. Fill in each wedge so that the size of the wedge is representative of the score you have given it.

5. Once you have filled in all of the wedges, take a look at the wheel as a whole and take some time to reflect: 

  • Are there any big discrepancies between areas? 
  • Why do you think this is? 
  • How would you feel if those low scoring areas were to improve? 
  • What can you do to improve them?

6. Choose one area to focus on first and write down what you would like to achieve in that area in the long-term.

7. Then, write down one (or more) specific steps you will take in the next week in order to move closer to that goal and act on them.

8. Repeat for each of the areas you would like to improve and monitor your progress by revisiting your wheel at the end of the month to see how it has changed.

Gratitude Journal

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Changing Perspective

15 Minutes a Day

Intermediate

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Written

A gratitude journal is a diary specifically for recording and reflecting on the things which you are grateful for on a regular basis. This can include people, places, objects, memories or events.

The gratitudes that you write can be as big or as small as you like but they must be both specific and personally meaningful. It is not enough to simply write down what an event was. You need to include the details of who it involved, when it happened, and most importantly, why it mattered to you.

Thinking in this much detail enables you to experience the event more deeply and develop a greater appreciation for it.

At the end of the day, before you get into bed, set aside some time (5 to 10 minutes) to think about and write down at least one thing you are grateful for that day. 

Be especially aware of unexpected gestures of kindness from others, or experiences that you might not normally pay attention to. 

The PDF in the Download Materials will provide you with a basic framework for getting started. Once you have filled it all in you may wish to purchase an inexpensive gratitude journal/notepad, or create a file on your computer that is designated to recording your gratitudes. Alternatively, you could try switching to the “gratitude jar” tool outlined below.

REMEMBER: Whatever you write needs to be as specific as possible and personally meaningful to you.

Gratitude Jar

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Changing Perspective

5 Minutes a Day

Starter

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Written

The gratitude jar is a simpler alternative strategy to writing a journal.

It is a fun way of creating a personal ‘jar full of gratitudes’ to appreciate and be thankful for. 

1. At the end of each day, write down two things you are grateful for and put them in the jar. You could also draw them if you like.

2. Remember each event can be as small as a friend phoning you on your lunch break or a colleague thanking you for your help on a project.

3. At the end of the week, set aside some time to empty the jar and read the entries.

Positive Affirmations

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Changing Perspective

10 Minutes a Day

Starter

Thinking

Affirmations are positive statements that help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, you encourage your brain to adopt a more positive outlook on your life and your capabilities. 

Over time, the positive changes to your thoughts will also be reflected in your behaviour.

There is no right or wrong way to practice your affirmations but some suggestions include:

  1. Writing the affirmation downWrite the affirmation in a journal, diary or on your computer and add to it each morning until you have a comprehensive list of positive statements ready for whenever you need a little boost.
  2. Saying the affirmation out loudWhen you wake up in the morning look at your reflection in the mirror and recite the affirmation out loud to yourself three times to solidify it in your mind.
  3. Downloading an affirmation appDownload a free affirmation app and get daily affirmations sent straight to your phone.

Note: what you choose to write in your affirmations is entirely up to you. Statements can range from something specific to do with your ability to perform in your job to something more general about your life. The important thing is that each affirmation is a positive statement created by you about you. 

The flashcards in the Download Materials contain some examples to help you get started.

Daily Do Goods

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Meaning and Purpose

5 Minutes a Day

Starter

Activity

As the saying goes, “if you want to feel good, do good”. 

Daily do-goods are actions that you perform throughout the day, all in the spirit of doing something for someone else. The action itself can be as simple as completing some housework that is usually done by your partner or, it can be something more time-consuming such as tutoring a colleague for an upcoming assessment. Whatever you decide to do, it is important that you are putting the needs of someone else ahead of yourself. 

For some examples of daily do-goods see theDo-Good Checklist in the Download Materials.

Once you have completed all of the activities on the checklist you can start adding your own or look at the list of ”Additional Do-Goods’ we created. 

 

 

 

Self-Care Assessment

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Meaning and Purpose

30 Minutes

Intermediate

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Written

This tool is a good start for you to think about how often you take time for yourself. How frequently, and how well, do you perform activities that make you feel good? This could be anything from going for a walk each morning before work, to practicing meditation before bed, to making sure you eat a healthy breakfast everyday. 

The goal is to learn about your self-care needs by identifying the areas of your life where your needs are being met as well as the areas that could use some more work. You can then improve your ‘self-care routine’. 

Use the link provided in the Download Materials. ​

1. Think about the different areas of your life and rate (from 1 to 3) how well you are currently taking care of each one:

(1 = poorly)

(3 = well)

2. Take note of any aspects you would like to improve.

3. Once you have identified all of your areas for improvement, choose one from each domain to work on in the next month and write down a pledge for how you will do so.

For example, if you decide that you want to exercise more frequently, your pledge might sat “In the next month I will dedicate 20 minutes every day to going on a walk”.

4. At the end of the month, review your progress and choose a new self-care activity to work on.

Clicking here will redirect you to TherapistAid.com where you can download and print off a free self-care assessment worksheet they created to help get you started.