How do you become happy? It’s a simple yet puzzling question, especially when you consider how different people define happiness. Happiness encompasses a wide range of positive mental emotions—everything from simple contentment to intensely passionate joy. Happify, a company that uses science and technology to encourage people to live happier, identified these 5 basic social skills that separate happy people from everyone else.
Whether your happiness is quiet or loud, these skills will help you achieve it:
1. Savor the moment
Psychiatrist Dr. Caroline Cribari says, “Focus [on] the moment: Try to gently, repeatedly focus your attention in the present moment, as that is where simple pleasures, simple sensory experiences, and opportunities to connect with others and with nature exist! To facilitate, every time you sit, exhale 5 long, slow breaths (blowing out many candles) and tune into your inner experiences since you last did your 5 exhales that day! Be present and slow down.” Being present in the immediate moment will help you reduce stress and negative thoughts because you’re instead hyperaware of what’s actually, physically happening right now.
2. Thank those who matter
Dr. Barbara Lavi, a clinical psychologist and HealthTap Concierge doctor, says gratefulness begins with paying attention to all the things you have as opposed to what is missing in your life. There are many things to be thankful for: good health, family, friends, and having a job and a place to live. Being thankful about the little things—clear weather, your dog’s wagging tail, a particularly delicious slice of cake—is just as important as thanking the people in your life.
3. Aspire to meaningful goals
Meaningful goals are those that have a proactive action plan with specific steps. Each step takes you closer to your goal—and nothing feels as wonderful or exciting as achieving a meaningful goal! By actively working towards a goal, you eliminate dead-end thinking that holds you back and keeps you in the same situation. Here are a few health goals—with checklists that have specific steps—to help you get started:
4. Give of yourself
Being generous and giving not only helps boost your own self-esteem but also helps spread feel-good feelings to those who receive your generosity. Dr. James Andrea, a dentist for over 28 years, notes that volunteering your time and talents helps you gain a more positive outlook on life. “Helping others is a good way to lift your spirits and see what you have to offer to others. When you see how you are able to help others, you will realize the value you have in society and how you can make a difference. The more you look outside of yourself and less critically at yourself the happier you will be.”
5. Empathize with others
Empathy, which clinical psychologist Dr. Arthur Ciaramicoli says is the ability to understand and respond to the unique experiences of another person, can be learned and practiced. Communicate with others and try to understand their point of view, to feel as they feel and think as they think. Empathy takes you out of a me-centric mindset and instead focuses your attention to the needs of others. It improves your relationships and can also help you understand yourself—since your life experience has been broadened by your exercise in empathy with others! Also, Dr. Ciaramicoli says, “If you expand your empathy with practice you will be developing one of the most important abilities for personal and professional success.”