How Can We Enjoy Moments of Happiness in Our Lives?
Life presents us with fleeting moments of happiness each day, yet sometimes we rush through life too quickly to fully appreciate these joyful times. In this blog post, we will explore simple ways to intentionally savor happiness and find more fulfillment in everyday experiences.
What is Happiness?
Before discussing how to experience more happiness, it’s helpful to define what happiness means. Happiness is an emotional state characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. While happiness looks different for everyone, at its core it involves feeling satisfied, pleased, or glad.
Psychologists break down happiness into two categories: high arousal happiness involving excitement and enthusiasm like when celebrating an achievement, and low arousal happiness which encompasses more peaceful positive emotions like peace, calm, and serenity experienced doing everyday activities we enjoy.
Sources of happiness often involve factors within our control like close social relationships, participating in meaningful activities, finding flow in activities we engage in fully, practicing gratitude, and viewing life challenges from a growth mindset perspective. While external factors like income, career, health, and relationships can influence our moments of happiness levels, research shows nearly 50% of our moments of happiness is determined by intentional activities and mindset.
Focusing on the Present Moment
One impactful way to increase everyday happiness is to fully focus on and appreciate the present moment. Too often our minds wander to past regrets or future worries, making it hard to enjoy what’s happening right now. Some strategies to help cultivate present moment awareness include:
- Put away distractions like phones when interacting with others or doing leisure activities
- Notice your natural surroundings using all five senses instead of just seeing
- Practice mindful eating to truly taste your food rather than eating on autopilot
- Try meditation apps to train your mind to focus on the present
Fully paying attention to whatever you’re currently experiencing, whether talking with a friend or enjoying a meal, makes it more pleasant. You block out rumination about the past or anxiety over the future to truly appreciate each instant.
Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has significant benefits and is strongly linked to greater happiness, life satisfaction, optimism, and even physical well-being. Some ways to incorporate more gratitude into your life include:
Keep a daily journal listing 3-5 things you’re grateful for each evening
- Send thank you notes, calls, or messages to people who’ve helped you
- Practice appreciating ordinary blessings like meals, shelter, health that are often taken for granted
- Say thank you frequently throughout the day whether to people or in prayers for gifts in your life
Shifting your focus from what’s lacking to actively appreciating blessings you have helps develop perspective and releases feel-good brain chemicals strengthening your mental positivity.
Savoring Positive Experiences
While moments of happiness comes from everyday small pleasures and routines, psychology research shows profoundly happy people intentionally notice more positive emotions in their daily experiences versus dwelling on negatives.
- Some techniques to more deeply savor and purposefully experience happy moments include:
- Stop multi-tasking and fully engage single-mindedly in pleasurable activities
- Share experiences like funny stories with others to relive them through laughter
- Capture happy memories through photos and journaling to revisit in future when needed
- Reminisce about past positive experiences to extend their happiness influence
Making a conscious effort to really absorb positive experiences using all your senses rather than just passively accepting them keeps small daily joys impactful for longer.
Building Social Connection
Our relationships profoundly impact our happiness levels. The happiest people make social connections through family, friends, work colleagues, groups of like-minded individuals, and even strangers a priority. Some ways to strengthen social bonds that support well-being include:
- Schedule regular social dates like coffee with friends on your calendar as important events
- Join social clubs, sports teams, hobby groups to widen your social network
- Engage face-to-face daily in conversation with family members you live with
- Thank and compliment others genuinely to make them feel valued
Human beings are inherently social, and positive relationships provide a lasting foundation for happiness. With some effort you can experience life’s pleasures together and make moments of happiness.
Happiness research underscores the importance of finding meaning and purpose in our activities, rather than just filling time aimlessly. Some ways to infuse more intention and mindfulness into daily living include:
- Identify your core values to guide purposeful choices versus living by default on auto-pilot
- Set meaningful goals aligned with your values to work towards for motivation
- Notice your innate talents and interests to fuel activities for flow and fulfillment
- Express your gratitude, kindness, and positivity through service to others in your community
Being deliberate in how we spend our discretionary time and consciously aligning actions to our values helps find deeper satisfaction and lasting happiness.
Our mindset plays a huge role in shaping our emotional perspective. While negative experiences are inevitable, happiness research highlights the power of our mental filters. Some proven ways to cultivate more optimism include:
Catch negative self-talk and consciously reframe statements to realistic positive ones
- Chose to interpret ambiguous situations and other’s actions favorably
- Focus on lessons learned and strengths shown instead of just dwelling on setbacks
- Give compliments sincerely and receive them humbly to feel good
Actively selecting a positive outlook, believing in hope, and viewing life through a growth mindset strengthens resilience to life’s ups and downs.
Practicing Acts of Kindness
Being kind to others and making them feel happy triggers feel-good brain responses that spread positivity. Some meaningful ways to integrate acts of kindness into your routine and create moments of happiness include:
- Smile warmly and maintain polite eye contact when interacting with strangers
- Hold the door and say thank you when others help you
- Compliment someone’s skill or character trait you genuinely admire about them
- Perform small favors for those struggling without needing recognition
Intentionally express caring and consideration for people around you on a daily basis. Small kindnesses go a long way towards your own joy as well as others’ well-being.
Setting Realistic Expectations
Unrealistic perfectionism and comparing ourselves to unrealistic ideals promoted constantly via social media rob us of moments of happiness. Some measures to relax standards include:
- Unrealistic Expectation
- Realistic Reframe
- Thinking life should be stress-free
- Accepting a certain level of daily hassles and pressures as normal
- Believing problems have perfect solutions
- Being ok with ambiguity and partial solutions rather than demanding certainty
- Comparing your behind the scenes to others highlight reels
- Judging yourself by your own achievements rather than always feeling inferior
Lowering perfectionism and embracing life’s imperfections paradoxically increases contentment. Focusing less on wanting more and more on appreciating what you have lifts happiness.
Our ability to experience joy depends on caring for ourselves holistically. Making time for physical, emotional, intellectual, social, occupational, and spiritual health through engaging in meaningful self-care activities supports well-being. Some impactful ways to prioritize self-care include getting adequate sleep, eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, taking meaningful breaks from work or other responsibilities, spending time alone for recharging, maintaining close friendships and family ties for emotional support, engaging in hobbies and interests that you find fulfilling, pursuing ongoing education and professional growth, practicing mindfulness and meditation, volunteering or having a greater purpose beyond work, and cultivating spiritual practices like prayer, contemplation or community service according to your own beliefs. Self-care looks different for everyone, but being attuned to our own needs and making our wellness a priority creates the capacity for more happiness and resilience when facing life’s difficulties.
While happiness is a constant journey with ups and downs, proactively cultivating daily habits shown to increase well-being can profoundly impact our overall experience of life. Prioritizing social connection, living intentionally, expressing gratitude, savoring positive moments, and adopting an optimistic mindset are effective yet simple practices worth incorporating into our routines.
At the same time, being kind without expecting anything in return, setting realistic expectations of ourselves, relaxing standards of perfection, and engaging in meaningful self-care all cultivate an attitude allowing us to better appreciate life’s natural pleasures rather than constantly wanting more. Moments of Happiness is a choice we can make through our perspective and how we choose to fill our time each day.
Of course, an ease of stress, meaningful relationships, good health, financial stability and other life circumstances also play a role in happiness. But even amidst difficulties, it is within our control to focus on life’s small blessings and practice mindfulness of each present moment. Our minds have incredible power to shape how we experience reality for better or worse. By choosing joy each day through intention, we can fill our lives with more moments of peace, contentment and gladness.