The most difficult paths often lead to the most interesting places

Many have believed that happiness is something we achieve when everything in life looks the way we’ve been thinking it should. Relationships, work, home, vacations… But all of this alone doesn’t create lasting happiness, so as much as we want it, happiness becomes that thing we desire but don’t know how to achieve.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we’ll be happy as soon as everything in our lives is exactly the way we want it to be, and that the solution to happiness is that we need to keep working harder to control these external situations and make them “right.”

But let’s think that the countries with the highest GDP are not the happiest in the world ranking. Although it may not seem like it, we can choose happiness in difficult times.

Is there such a thing as happiness?

The pursuit of happiness has always been like the Holy Grail. We have to start from the idea that searching does not imply finding, having to assume a certain frustration and disappointment since the desired final state is never reached. Certainly, what happens is that happiness is a state of mind and, like other emotions, it is not something that is obtained, but something that is experienced.

You can’t change what happens to you, but you can change how you experience what happens to you

Happiness can be understood from various perspectives, all of which affect both the personal and professional fields. Andrés Aljure, an expert in happiness management, defines it as “a tailor-made suit that depends on the characteristics of each person, their activities, their environment and/or their purposes”. Some scientists and communicators such as Eduardo Punset (economist, lawyer and science communicator) define it as “the absence of fear”; others such as Tal Ben-Shahar (Professor of Happiness at Harvard University, PhD in Organizational Behavior) define it as “the experience of a life with purpose and at the same time enjoyment”; others, such as Luis Rojas Marcos (psychiatrist), understand it as “the experience of a satisfactory life in general”.

According to Professor Sonja Lyumbomirsky of the University of California, the factors involved in happiness levels are made up of 50% genetic factors, 40% our intentional activities and only 10% external factors. Since we can’t change genetics, we can change how we deal with problems.

Just because genetic factors are unchangeable doesn’t mean you can’t improve happiness levels. We can learn and train ourselves to increase our levels of happiness, despite having a reference value given by genetic factors.

Happiness is not the same as positivity

Being positive or optimistic represents a way of coping with problems, without forgetting that negative emotions are necessary and healthy to maintain a stable base of happiness in anyone’s life.

Although there are many tricks that psychologists recommend, at this point it may be enough to start with three:

  1. Reframe the situation. How we interpret our emotions is largely due to how they are framed, in other words, the context. Hidden in every problem may be an opportunity.
  2. Build strong relationships. Even at a distance, emotional connections with other people are the most important component of happiness. Even in the face of loss, the memory of good times can be an encouragement to continue.
  3. Do something that helps you grow. People with purpose have an overview about the importance of their goals in life, they take better care of themselves and their environment.

 

It may initially seem that this is a utopia, but this is due to a vague view of the notion itself and its implications. So it’s worth remembering that emotions are what we do with them. It’s time to lift your spirits and take action. Resilience and agility, as I have been expressing in my last posts.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward

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