What Happy People Do Differently: Gratitude for Today and Calm for Tomorrow

September 4, 2013 | Found In:  Aging

impatience_sign_of_boredomWhat does “happiness” mean to you? How would you define it? In a recent Psychology Today piece titled “What Happy People Do Differently,” the authors explain that, “…true happiness is more than a jumble of intensely positive feelings—it’s probably better described as a sense of ‘peace’ or ‘contentedness.” Achieving happiness is consistently rated as the most desirable life goal across cultures, but how do we achieve this goal?

In the article mentioned above, the authors addressed a fascinating, though perhaps not so surprising, phenomenon: there can be rewards in overall happiness from trying new experiences and activities. In fact, the happiest people seem to be those who strike a balance between focusing on what is familiar and important and seeking growth through new experiences. Sometimes comfort and familiarity are most conducive to feeling good, for example gathering with family to celebrate the holidays or catching up with a close friend at your favorite coffee shop. Occasionally branching out and seeking new experiences, such as trying an ethnic cuisine you haven’t tasted before or signing up for a creative writing class for the first time, while potentially causing some initial anxiety or discomfort, can promote happiness in the long term.

As the authors of the article note, “If you want to envision a happy person’s stance, imagine one foot rooted in the present with mindful appreciation of what one has—and another foot reaching toward the future for yet-to-be-uncovered sources of meaning.” It seems that the coupling of gratitude for the present moment and a sense of calm about the future are important to achieving long-term happiness, especially in older age.

Did you recently try a new experience that contributed to a sense of broadened horizons? Share it with us in the comments section below!


Comments are closed.