Scientists explain the fundamental steps of how to become happier
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: PlumeCreative/Maria Korneeva/Getty Images
If you have ever wondered how you can go about becoming happier, chances are you are not alone.
But if you're going to figure out how to be happier, first you have to define what happiness actually is.
For Dr Emiliana Simon-Thomas, who is the director at Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, happiness is not so much a fleeting emotion as an overarching way of viewing the world.
Dr Simon-Thomas told IFLScience that this idea of happiness includes our ability to deal with the more challenging things we will inevitably face.
She said: “If you think happiness means pleasure and entertainment and maximizing material comfort, then you are never going to be happy.
“You will be on what's called the ‘hedonic treadmill’, and that’s connected to a persistent sense of disappointment.”
So now we know what not to do, and what our goal is when it comes to being happy. How do we get there?
Well, human being are social animals by nature, so it's probably not much of a surprise that a big part of our ability to be happy in our lives comes from our connections with others.
This could mean building a sense of community and connection, both with people we're close to and with strangers.
There is also what Simon-Thomas calls our 'threshold for experiencing positive emotions'.
Finally, there is 'resilience', which is how we respond to and manage failures, difficulties, and adversity.
Because no matter what we do we are going to experience difficult parts of our lives, so we have to try and process them as best as we can.
But what exactly can we do to try and help ourselves to view the world in this way?
Well, it turns out that like anything else this isn't something which is necessarily innate, but which we have to practice.
Dr Simon-Thomas said: “The more we practice focusing on one kind of idea, or awareness, the more salient that idea or awareness becomes on a routine basis.
“So we'll think of things that are positive more readily if we practice thinking about things that are positive.”
Essentially, if you want to feel happier you have to train your brain to view things in a positive light.
So, it seems that 'thinking happy thoughts' really can make an impact.