How can you have a happy and fulfilling year ahead?

What brings happiness and fulfilment? If we are to believe advertisers happiness is about having the right house, car, spouse, children, figure etc. However, we all know that we need to look within ourselves to find happiness, rather than thinking that external things were going to make us happy.

On a scale of one (not at all happy and/or fulfilled) to 10 (very happy and/or fulfilled), how do you rate yourself? 

Core versus contingent happiness -
Even though we know that things outside ourselves don’t bring us happiness, we can easily fall into the trap of blaming our unhappiness on poor relationships both in and out work, our lack of money, poor health, boring or stressful jobs. Now of course that does not mean that those things do not cause us problems, but if we are happy in ourselves, we tend to react very differently to the stresses and strains of everyday life. There is a difference between contingent happiness, dependent on things outside ourselves, which is valid, but tends to be short lived and can be fragile if the thing that we are dependent on disappears. While core happiness, is about being happy in ourselves, no matter what.

Where does the cause of happiness and fulfilment lie? Research in both Positive Psychology and Neuroscience shows that taking action to help others, brings us more happiness and satisfaction in the long term, than just focusing on our own needs and wants.

  • Giving is receiving - Neuroscientists have found that the same neural pathways in our brain light up when we give to others (whether that is giving a present, or making them a cup of tea or doing something nice for others), as when we receive something from others. 
  • Random acts of kindness – Positive Psychology research has shown that carrying out random acts of kindness on a regular basis, has an impact on our sense of well being. Here’s 101 ideas of small RAOK’s you can do: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/101-easy-ideas-for-random-acts-of-kindness.
  • Wants versus shoulds – if you give to others because you feel you ‘should’, and you end up resenting it or exhausting yourself, this will not create value or lead to happiness for yourself and others. One of the things I learned when both of my parents were ill for a number of years, is that I cannot keep on giving to others if I do not give to myself. Make sure that your inner critic does not beat you up for doing things to care for yourself, which is so important. The more I listen to my inner wisdom rather than my inner critic, the better I have become at caring for myself, being able to expand my life and give to others, and the happier I have become. See http://www.justaddcontent.co.uk/v1/grove/e035_January_2008_Inner_Critic.htm for more on 'master your inner critic' and http://www.justaddcontent.co.uk/v1/grove/e036_February_2008_-_Wisdom.htm for 'release your inner wisdom'.

‘When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.’ Helen Keller

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Written by Melanie Greene

Melanie Greene is an Occupational Psychologist, NLP Master Practitioner with over 28 years of experience. She works as a coach, trainer and mediator in a wide variety of businesses, specialising in communication issues in the workplace and helping people to learn how to manage the pressures and stresses of work and life.… Read more

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