Happy in 2023?
By: Charlotte Wiemann; double published in the BEE3 Magazine
New year’s resolutions. You’ve definitely heard of them – do more exercise, lose weight, get organised, spend less, and save more money. You set these goals to motivate yourself and you might feel like it’s a good habit. The examples I just said, are the most common ones because they seem to get you closer to the “perfect” life. But the perfect life: does such a thing even exist? And what do we consider a perfect life?
A study from 2019 asked different people what they thought a perfect life was. Some said that the perfect life is when you don’t have to worry about anything. When you fit into today’s beauty standards, you don’t need to worry about working out. When you have enough money, you can buy what you want, and don’t have to worry about spending too much. Having a good relationship with your family and/or your partner is something lucky too, because a lot of people struggle with or worry about their relationships. Other participants said that the perfect life doesn’t exist. In their opinion, the “perfect” life has only emerged because of social media. Influencers only post the things they want their fans to see. All the struggle and pain are hidden, so that they seem perfect to their followers. That’s why so many people think of a famous person when they hear the words “perfect life”. Another completely different answer was that birds have a perfect life, but they are too occupied with it to notice it. However, the only thing all of them could agree on was that the people who live a “perfect” life are perfectly happy.
You have probably seen people who always seem to be happy, no matter the situation. Even seriously ill or desperately poor people are sometimes so cheerful that it really impresses us. Why are some people happier that others? Can happiness be learned? Researchers have been struggling with these questions for quite some time. Turns out that happiness can be trained. And these people aren’t happy because they fit in today’s beauty standards or because of their wealth. It’s the everyday, little things that make a change.
Research has proven your happiness is influenced by the people around you. Happiness is just as contagious as pessimism and a bad mood. If you want to become happy yourself, you should spend as much time as possible with cheerful, lively people. On the other hand, you shouldn’t let people who put you down, block you and constantly sap your energy get too close to you. Of course, you shouldn’t leave them all by themselves because that’s not going to help anyone. Caring about people that are in a difficult situation can help them become happier too. You shouldn’t avoid difficult situations or sad feelings either. Or keep nagging and complaining about small things that are not worth complaining about.
Positive thoughts do a lot too. If you are not feeling well, think of a nice experience and a smile will appear on your face. People tend to postpone happiness until later. Thinking about past mistakes pulls us down. The same happens with worries about the future.
Living in the moment can be a real blessing for many people. You can only act in this one moment. The past can’t be changed, and the future is still in the dark. Your true life is here and now. An old story explains this quite well: Fortune tellers asked happy people the secret to their happiness. One of them replied: “When I lie down, I lie down. When I get up, I get up. If I go, I go. When I eat, I eat.” At first the fortune tellers thought they were joking but then they added: “Surely you do the same. But while you’re lying down, you’re already thinking about getting up. When you get up, you think about where you are going. And while you’re on your way to your destination, you are already thinking about what you are going to eat. So, your thoughts are always there where you are not.” Happiness doesn’t always come from one big moment. Every day you can find it in many small things and moments.
To achieve your goal to have a happy new year, change the things that really matter. If you want to know more about this topic, consider reading the bestselling book “The how of happiness” written by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a well-known professor and researcher.