The Top 5 Predictors of Happiness Backed by Science
Happiness is something that we all want more of - it's something we desire, long for and crave. It may also hint at the sole reason of why we're even here in the first place! As Aristotle so eloquently put it “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” So herein lies my first ever blog post that I hope sheds some light on the role we can all actively play in cultivating long-term and sustainable happiness!
One day or day one?
Welcome to my first EVER blog post as part of The Happiness Approach Podcast Show! You should know that I'm a recovering perfectionist but I realized, things are better done than perfect - so here I am finally doing this! I can't wait to embark on this journey and hope you'll tune in and come along with me so we can all better ourselves together and never let our dreams, stay dreams. Above all, my purpose, drive, motivation and mission is to inspire others to do their thing and share it with the World. And, in doing so, I aspire to help you design a life that feels right.
What you can expect: I'll release a new blog post every Monday and Thursday (EDIT from the future: Mondays only now!) which will coincide and relate to my podcast episodes on my brand spankin' new show called, "The Happiness Approach!" Mondays will be my regular podcast episodes and blog posts that relate to all things personal development, lifestyle, business and more! Thursdays, however, will be part of a special edition series called "Tidbit Thursdays" where I'll be sharing a more vulnerable side of myself - including written poetry, thoughts, journal entries, excerpts of my fav books or montages of my fav quotes! NOTE if you’re reading this past the date this blog post was published: Tidbit Thursdays are no longer happening. Instead, from time to time, I incorporate Tidbit Thursday type things into my Monday shows :).
Regardless of how you found me or where you're at in life, I hope these blog posts and my podcast show help you along your own personal story and legend. We're going to be covering some amazing topics, so stay tuned - but for now, let's get this show on the road shall we?
The Big "H" & The Happy Lab
Back in my good ol' University days, I was lucky enough to be part of a small (but mighty) "Happy Lab" where we were laser-focused on an incredible subset of psychology, known as positive psychology. The reasons I fell in-love with positive psychology are plentiful, but the short of it is that rather than asking "what's wrong with you and how can we fix it?" it asks a different, but, also important question, "what's right with you and how can we promote it?" Traditional psychology sometimes tends to look at us as broken pieces that need mending and fixing, the "you gotta' first be worse to get better" notion. Whereas, positive psychology takes a gander and puts the onus on us, to use what we already have within to promote human flourishing.
Don't Get Me Wrong
Now, before you get all upset at me - stop right there! I truly love and adore all areas of human curiosity under the massive umbrella and discipline of psychological science - I believe each subset holds an integral piece to the puzzle of holistic human well-being and am thrilled it's being shed brighter light on as every day passes.
Mental health is definitely on it's way now more than ever in getting more recognized as a key component to overall health and optimal functioning in the body (as is nutrition and other areas of health/wellness that have been brushed off to the side for a long time). Yay us! The thing is, a lot of this stuff has been known and around since ancient times, but we are just starting to rekindle the meaning/benefits behind these old but genius rituals, practices and remedies. The mind-body connection is being made more and more! I sure can feel the shift happening - can you feel it?
We Can Do Better
I just think we can do better, that's all. This Blog, my podcast show and efforts online are my attempt in doing my part in doing better. Because, once we know better, we can do better. I want to take what I've learned, researched and studied and put it out into the World as far and as long as I possibly can! I've known that this was my calling for a long time now and I'm finally picking up the phone!
The Happiness Approach Podcast
Want inspo-on-the-go? Listen to the audio version of this blog post here ♡
In this podcast episode, I share with you the top 5 predictors of happiness, all backed by positive psychology research and a massive lit review done by yours truly! Listen in now if you want to be happier :)
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Today's QT's: Quote-ables & Takeaways from today's podcast episode & blog ↴
“We don't have or own happiness, we cultivate it.”
“Pick up the phone to your calling and answer it”
“You don't have to get worse to get better”
Let's Be Honest
Have you ever read through a scientific study in an academic journal, and asked yourself "Okay, again now. In English...?" Or worse, maybe you haven't even been able to access one! Because truly, what good is scientific research/knowledge/breakthroughs/advancements if they're just floating around in academic journals where the public or lay-person can't even access most of them? I know some of the things I'm saying won't make me popular, but I think being vulnerable and real about how we feel connects us all - maybe lots of us feel this way in academia but just never express it? Comment below if ya' feel me!
Just BECause You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should
Now, I've been intrigued with all things science (it's various subsets, especially: neuroscience, quantum physics and astronomy) and human flourishing since I was a little girl, but after graduating with an honour's degree and having done a thesis, massive lit-review and research on health & positive psychology from a top tier University, I felt, a bit frustrated, and to be frank: empty. I thought I wanted to pursue my PhD and become a neuroscientist and researcher. That's what I thought my path was forever. But, the more and more I learned about the process and observed those around me pursuing it, the more I got hit with the reality that it sometimes appeared more about getting published in academic journals or more about the ego-boost (getting your name on papers), funding and competition of it all than actually taking what they discovered and worked so hard on and putting it out into the real World - where it could be applied in practical and meaningful ways *phew! that was a mouthful*!
I knew I was meant for other things. And, that didn't mean I wasn't grateful for my degree (Uni was some of the best years of my life!), nor did it mean I didn't have a thirst for knowledge anymore - in fact, I found myself thirsty for all types of knowledge and learning outside of just the institutionalized kind. I still sometimes miss being in Uni but, there seemed to be a large gap between research being done and research being applied and shared to the masses. So, I decided right then and there, I would do my best to bridge that gap by starting my own online business.
Even now, I'm confident I could get into Harvard, Yale or top tier Grad Schools - in fact, my supervisors and professors still email me and ask if I need reference letters! A lot of my peers that were in the small honours subset went on to do so and I used to think, well, since I can get in, should I? Seems like the clear and safe choice doesn't it? I couldn't be happier for my peers who chose to go down that path because I know that's what they wanted in their hearts - but, for me, I just have no interest in going down that route anymore. I want to pave my own path in trying to use the internet and digital realm as a tool to educate and simplify what we want, crave or desire.
Please Note: I'm not in anyway hating on academics or people who aren't in the entrepreneurial space; I have SO much respect for people who do all kind of work in all sorts of career paths AND for academia - I'm all for it as long as that's what feels right to them! It just wasn't for me. Since I can remember, I've been entrepreneurial and couldn't ever see myself being happy or thriving working for anyone in the long-run - I craved running my own business, speaking and starting all of this! Now, that isn't for everyone, and that's totally OKAY but it is for me and that's why I'm here. Okay! Back to the blog:
I realized, I want to teach on loads of different topics and use what I've learned in Uni along with 8+ years of being obsessive over self development/seminars/books/events/goals/business/branding/marketing and all that jazz! I want to integrate science, psychology, self-growth, lifestyle, health, travel, business and entrepreneurship. For so long, we've been told we need a niche, but that was the old way! The new way is to just be real and do what you want to do, hence the term, "multi-passionate entrepreneur." Deep down, I've always known I was meant to do this and am over the moon that it's finally coming into fruition!
From the Bottom of My ♡
I just want to do what I can to help you have the best life you can.
Sorry (not sorry) if that was too mooshy for you, but I mean it!
Now, before I end up writing a novel in this blog post, I better get to what it's about! Please have mercy, it's my first one and I feel like I needed to give you a bit of a back story :).
Without further ado, let’s get this party started with laying out out some terms.
I know…sheesh! This girl can talk :P.
Positive Psychology: the scientific study of happiness which works to reveal truths onto human flourishing & subjective well-being (SWB).
Happiness: the feeling or actual state you are in - your affective evaluation or how you feel.
Life Satisfaction: your personal opinion on the evaluation of your life or, your appraised satisfaction of it - In other words, your cognitive appraisal of your life or, how satisfied you think and believe you are with your life.
Therein lies, Subjective Well-Being (SWB): the delicious cocktail of Happiness and Life Satisfaction.
The Feel-Good Equation Y'all:
Happiness + Life Satisfaction = Subjective Well -Being
^ (this was especially for those of you who like math *giggles*)
The Top 5 Predictors of Happiness
1. PHYSICAL EXERCISE
Okay, we all know this is good for us, but not very many people know the mental health benefits of exercise. I don't know about you, but the reasons I exercise far surpass any physical goal - it keeps me sane! It's the time of the day where I can have me time and where I can de-stress. Let's just say when I don't get to exercise (or can't due to some sort of injury or when life throws a curve ball at ya'), I am not a happy camper.
What I found in the research though is that it matters that you do something that gets you moving that you actually ENJOY. Of course any form of exercise will increase your happiness, productivity, decrease distress and so much more BUT your perception of liking it or not matters. So please don’t just kill yourself in the gym if it’s not your thing! Find a soulmate workout that helps you discover flow, gets you lost in time, works for you and your body and gets you to actually look forward to your workouts! The best workout is the one you will actually DO.
I could talk about this one for hours as it's such a large diverse construct, but I'll keep it short and sweet here for you: Spirituality is not the same thing as religion. You can be a deeply spiritual person without being religious and vice versa. It’s a feeling, a connection to a higher power or transcendental dimension, to nature, to the community or with others that surround you, to something beyond you or even a connection you feel deeply with yourself. It’s a sense of awe, gratitude, reverence and wonder. Spirituality encompasses the discovery of one's own personal meaning in life.
Cool tidbit of info: The word "breath" comes from the word "spiritus" in Latin and the Sanskrit word for "breath, life or life-force" is "pran" which has a deep spiritual meaning in India.
3. CONNECTEDNESS WITH NATURE
This is our day one. It dates so far back and has become part of our biology. Nature is within us and created us, therefore doesn't it make sense that we long for it and it has a huge effect on our well-being? For evolutionary reasons and for a multitude of others, we adore nature and its benefits upon us are endless. Going outside in nature once a day will skyrocket not only your happiness, but decrease stress levels, allow you to problem solve better, increase creativity and much more! I mean, there's conclusive data that suggests those who live in urban or more built up settings are less happy than those who live amongst natural settings. There's even been studies that show the effects of nature in hospitals, urban developments, city planning and more. The World’s most successful people in a sense of holistic and long-game success usually have a habit of incorporating daily nature walks or some sort of nature into their day. Even a short 10 minutes outside in a natural setting will boost our happiness - insert cheesy nature quote here: "There may be no wifi in nature, but I can assure you you'll find a better connection."
4. SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
This is the thing that will matter most at the end of our lives, so let's make it matter NOW! A study asked centurions what contributed to a happy and long life and they said social relationships played a big part in it. It’s not about how many social relationships you have though, it’s about how much depth they foster. Always think quality over quantity. Take time to nurture your key relationships - think of them as plants, you water them, they'll bloom. You water them, they'll water you!
But, be careful with who you spend your time around - I mean, we are the average of the 5 people we most spend time with so make sure those people level you up, not tear you down. And, before being so quick to judge others in being "negative" or "bad" or "toxic" for you, remember to take responsibility of what part you may be playing in terms of your perception and beliefs too. Sometimes, it could just be the way we are allowing someone to have influence over us, and our own reactions that need to be straightened out.
5. VOLUNTEERING, GIVING BACK, KINDNESS & PAYING IT FORWARD
Be a Good Human, Thanks. No really, do it! We love to do something good for others or the World at large (am I right?) and it pays in tenfold to do so. Turns out, the research agrees too, this isn't just some warm fuzzy feeling we think we get, it's legit! Giving back correlates with self actualization (from Maslow's hierarchy of needs if you're into the advanced psych stuff), arguably the highest level of personal meaning and achievement. Doing something for someone or something that can’t repay you will bring you joy and happiness, it can even give you a purpose or meaning in life. Acts of kindness and paying it forward in little ways matter too. Big, or little, whichever way you can, not only will this help whoever or whatever cause you're doing it for, it'll boost your happiness along the way AND you'll be being a good human *hooray!* The ultimate win-win!
2 BONUSES: GRATITUDE + MEANING & PURPOSE IN LIFE
Feeling and expressing gratitude is also very highly correlated with happiness as is having meaning/purpose in life. These tie into spirituality and giving back too! If you take more time out to think about the things you're grateful for and put more emphasis on meaning and purpose in life, you will start to notice a positive shift in your overall happiness and life satisfaction.
Sending you BIG love today & always!
My whole heart, ♡
Today's QT's: Quote-ables & Takeaways from today's podcast episode & blog ↴
“Never let your dreams stay dreams.”
“One day or day one?”
“Done is better than perfect”
“It’s not about a short lived spike in your happiness, it’s about cultivating a lifestyle that ensures a long lasting and sustainable happiness”
“Once we know better, we can do better”
“Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should”
“You water me, I'll water you”
“When it comes to relationships, choose quality over quantity”
“Design a life that feels right”