Choosing To Be Happy
Strategies for Happiness: 7 Steps to Becoming a Happier Person
Happiness Strategy #3: Foster Forgiveness continued...
In his book, Five Steps to Forgiveness, clinical psychologist Everett
Worthington Jr. offers a 5-step process he calls REACH. First, recall
the hurt. Then empathize and try to understand the act from the
perpetrator's point of view. Be altruistic by recalling a time in your
life when you were forgiven. Commit to putting your forgiveness into
words. You can do this either in a letter to the person you're forgiving or in
your journal. Finally, try to hold on to the forgiveness. Don't dwell on
your anger, hurt, and desire for vengeance.
The alternative to forgiveness is mulling over a transgression. This is a
form of chronic stress, says Worthington.
"Rumination is the mental health bad boy," Worthington tells WebMD. "It's
associated with almost everything bad in the mental health field --
obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety -- probably hives, too."
Happiness Strategy #4: Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings
As Jon Haidt puts it, improve your mental hygiene. In The Happiness
Hypothesis, Haidt compares the mind to a man riding an elephant. The
elephant represents the powerful thoughts and feelings -- mostly unconscious --
that drive your behavior. The man, although much weaker, can exert control over
the elephant, just as you can exert control over negative thoughts and
"The key is a commitment to doing the things necessary to retrain the
elephant," Haidt says. "And the evidence suggests there's a lot you can do. It
just takes work."
For example, you can practice meditation, rhythmic breathing, yoga, or
relaxation techniques to quell anxiety and promote serenity. You can learn to
recognize and challenge thoughts you have about being inadequate and
"If you learn techniques for identifying negative thoughts, then it's easier
to challenge them," Haidt said. "Sometimes just reading David Burns' book,
Feeling Good, can have a positive effect."
Happiness Strategy #5: Remember, Money Can't Buy Happiness
Research shows that once income climbs above the poverty level, more money
brings very little extra happiness. Yet, "we keep assuming that because things
aren't bringing us happiness, they're the wrong things, rather than recognizing
that the pursuit itself is futile," writes Daniel Gilbert in his book,
Stumbling on Happiness. "Regardless of what we achieve in the pursuit of
stuff, it's never going to bring about an enduring state of happiness."