On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being sad and 10 being ecstatic, how happy are you? Sociologist, Christine Carter, PhD and author of Raising Happiness discussed this topic on a recent Dr. Oz show. She defined a happy life as, “Being one that is filled with a range of positive emotions. So happiness is a positive emotion that takes place in the present, it goes with contentment, or engagement…we also really need to think about positive emotions about other people like love and compassion. Or, about the past like gratitude or the future like faith, hope, optimism, confidence; a happy life is full of all of those types of positive emotions.”
Dr. Carter asks 4 questions to help you determine where you rank on the happiness scale:
- During this past week (and considering it has been full of sales) have you purchased anything for yourself?
- In this same time period, have you relaxed at all, perhaps by watching television?
- Over the past week have you gifted anyone else something?
- In the past 7 days have you faced any challenge with an optimistic attitude?
She calls the first 2 questions, “instant gratification or drive through happiness” and this creates short-term pleasure. This is gratitude you feel, in the moment, from material things you’ve gained. As Christine communicates, “It triggers the reward system in the brain.”
Dr. Carter goes on to talk about the second two questions as being “The real road to happiness, which is paved by certain behaviors like helping somebody else, or giving them a gift or meeting a challenge with a growth mindset. Those are the things that might be a little harder to do in the moment but do lead to a lasting sense of joy.”
If you are feeling unhappy or you rank somewhere on the scale in need for improvement then it is time to move yourself from momentary happiness to long-term growth. How can you do this? By going from a “pleasure bump” that causes you to seek more desires to a perspective that embraces optimism. Positivity and kindness actually changes the chemical make in the brain and creates enduring bliss.
This really comes down to your relationships with others, how kind you are, and your outlook on life. You are the creator of you own happy destiny, if you don’t like how you feel, alter your outlook and get involved; spread the love my friend.