The Pursuit of Happiness
06 June 2018
Counselling, EMCC Newsletter
Year 2018
June 2018

Have you ever found yourself reminiscing about your childhood? Amidst the feelings of nostalgia might be a mild sense of loss for a time where we had little to no care in the world. Thinking about our childhood and comparing it to our lives now, it is perhaps also amazing how far we have come. Gone are the days that we can sleep in until noon. Growing up has stripped away our rose-tinted view of the world; it has loaded onto our backs more responsibilities, concerns and even stresses. It is no wonder that we yearn for ways to be happy more than when we were children.

In this article, we explore the topic of happiness and what we can do to achieve it, as well as share some tips from our Head of Counselling on how to achieve happiness.

The importance, or rather, the human innate need for happiness, has been studied by psychologists, as well as sociologists, neurologists and many more. Such is its significance that it is observed on International Day of Happiness (20 March) throughout the world by all United Nations Member States. The call for happiness has in fact been given greater priority by the United Nations through its adopted resolution that a “holistic approach” to “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” which promotes the “happiness and well-being of all peoples”.

WHAT EXACTLY IS HAPPINESS?

Happiness is essentially the positive quality of the state of mind. Research in the fields of positive psychology defines a happy person as one that has frequent positive emotions including joy, interest and pride. However, happiness does not mean an absence of sadness, anger or anxiety. You are still going to experience negative emotions, but a happy person is one that is able to manage them healthily and chooses to still have a positive outlook on life.

THE PERMA MODEL – HOW WE CAN ACHIEVE HAPPINESS AND WELL-BEING

In the study of Positive Psychology, one famous name is American Psychologist Martin Seligman. Professor Seligman worked with the American army, where his research found that long-term modern warfare on the American soldiers has resulted in them experiencing Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental disorders.

Professor Seligman created the PERMA model (as seen on below) to allow the soldiers to familiarise themselves with the 5 keys to lasting well-being, thereby empowering them to eventually unlock the door to a happy life. Using these same keys, you too can take a step closer to a fulfilled, meaningful and happy life.

PERMA model via University of Pennslyvania

POSITIVE EMOTIONS
Good experiences can make one feel good, and one may derive a feeling of happiness from positive events. Positivity tends to give you a sense of hope and purpose. Effort must also be given to direct your focus away from negative events before it manifests into an overwhelming sense of unhappiness. Dwelling on unhappiness may lead one down the slippery slope to depression. Therefore, it is important that you focus on the high and positive aspects of life in order to maintain a cheerful outlook on life. 

ENGAGEMENT
Being engaged in life can help you to grow and nurture your happiness level (this may vary from individual to individual). We grow by learning in life and there are many ways to be engaged even outside of our daily routine at work or school. Be it trying a new instrument, playing a new sport or indulging in a new hobby. Each learning journey will allow you to focus on yourself and expand your learning capacity, thus creating a “flow” towards enhancing our intelligence, skills and emotional capabilities. Find your flow, and it shall lead you to a happy life. 

RELATIONSHIPS
Humans are social creatures. Having positive relationships with your parents, siblings, peers and friends, and building authentic connections in your relationships is important, as a strong relationship will likely be able to withstand unhappiness (e.g. in conflicts) and give you support in difficult times. A strong relationship will be essential in order to sustain one’s well-being in life.

MEANING
A purposeful existence, rather than the blind pursuit of pleasure and material wealth, can give you a real reason for living. By leading a purposeful life, it increases a person’s sense of self-worth, infusing into one’s mind the positivity that can henceforth influence our actions in life. Such a person is also more likely to be satisfied and therefore happier in life. 

ACCOMPLISHMENT
Setting goals provides us with the positive energy that helps move us towards achieving our goals. It is a good reminder that we should all set realistic goals so that we can reasonably meet these goals. By achieving the set goals, you would gain the feeling of pride or fulfilment which are important in enhancing your mental well-being, which may in turn be converted into feelings of happiness.

The PERMA model illustrates that attaining happiness all boils down to our thoughts and actions. By choosing to be positive, finding an activity we enjoy and can be fully engaged with, building strong relationships with our family and friends, finding something that gives us a sense of purpose and lastly, feeling a sense of accomplishment by setting and achieving realistic goals, we may finally be able to find lasting happiness.

Besides the PERMA model, here are 3 more tips on how to achieve happiness from our Head of Counselling, Diana Chandra:

COUNSELLOR’S TIPS

TIP 1: PUT A LITTLE GRATITUDE INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
Giving thanks has been shown to be connected to one’s happiness because it requires acknowledging the good and by being appreciative mentally, it can help spark off a feeling of positivity in you. You will be surprised how doing so will actually help you more than it does to the person receiving your show of gratitude.

TIP 2: HELPING OTHERS
Helping others is a powerful way to boost our happiness level as it can give us a sense of meaning which lifts our mood by infecting a positive feeling of achievement within. Show a little kindness to others, be it small, unplanned gestures or doing volunteer work, it might make your day better as it did to someone else!

TIP 3: GET ENOUGH SLEEP/REST
According to the US National Sleep Foundation, getting a good night’s rest, at least eight hours or more, is probably the most important change you can make immediately in your life. Not getting enough sleep naturally increases stress levels, as well as the increased risk for depression. Given adequate sleep, your physical well-being improves, and also account for a mentally healthier state of mind for you.


Research Source
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41666563

Happiness Day
http://www.dayofhappiness.net/about/
http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/65/309

Positive Psychology
https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/who-is-martin-seligman/
https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/positive-psychology-us-army
https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/perma-model/#positive-emotions

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