Monday, 24 October 2016

Shiny Happy People - What Do They Have in Common?

Nicki Edgell

Wellbeing and life coaching is a massive industry these days. There is a wealth of self-help advice, blogs, newsletters, and books out there, all with their own theories on what it takes "to be happy". But is "happiness" even measurable? Is it relative? Is it something that can be learned or are you just born with it? Does it depend on our circumstances - is the concept of happiness still fair to someone living in terminal ill health, or in a war torn country, or so poor they do not have food, water or shelter?

On that last point it does seem a little conceited to talk of happiness when many in the world do not have the chance to ponder such an ideal. It puts me in mind of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs illustrated below:

Maslow's pyramid says that human needs must be met in order from bottom to top. You are only in a position to attain your "higher" psychological and self fulfillment needs (including arguably "happiness") after your basic needs of food, water, shelter, safety and security are secure.

Accepting those provisos and limitations, there are three websites I subscribe too which I find consistently offer great life insights and advice, to those seeking to meet their needs in the top half of the pyramid. I'm also pleased to say that having read quite a few articles on the subject there appears to be a degree of consensus forming about what it takes to achieve happiness, with the same subjects cropping up over and over.

The following list of characteristics of happy people came from one of the websites listed below:

  • They devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships
  • They are comfortable expressing gratitude for all they have
  • They are often the first to offer helping hands to coworkers and passersby
  • They practice optimism when imagining their futures
  • They savour life's pleasures and try to live in the present moment
  • They make physical exercise a weekly or even daily habit
  • They are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions (eg. fighting fraud, building cabinets, or teaching their children their deeply held values)
  • Last but not least, the happiest people do have their share of stresses, crises, and even tragedies - they may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or I, but their secret weapon is the poise and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge
The last one in this list is often contested. For those of us who can take basic needs for granted, and are lucky enough not to have had serious crises or tragedies in our lives, can we credibly preach to those that have appeared to have had a hard or unlucky life and are justifiably able to say... "it's alright for you with your nice family and house living in your dream world of unicorns, but if you were in my situation and had experienced what I have...?"

However despite this oft repeated argument, studies have shown that the pattern of happiness (or unhappiness) is consistent throughout the list such that a happy person will usually display all of the above characteristics and will recover and maintain their core happiness even after life changing events (at least in the longer run). A fundamentally unhappy person is more likely to display the opposite characteristics and see the bad in everything and everyone, and furthermore blame outside influences for their woe.

You are what you think, you attract what you give out, and you notice what you choose to focus on whether that is the "good" or the "bad".

The three websites worth exploring and subscribing to are listed below:

You may also find my post on the negative effects of the news interesting:

About the Author

Nicki Edgell

I am a clinical Psycho-neuro-immunologist, Metabolic Balance Coach, Natural Nutritionist and Independent Nikken Consultant. I practice in Brighton in the South of England, helping individuals and groups towards the health, vitality and the life they want for themselves. I work under the principle that wellness depends on a balanced holistic approach to living, in all areas of your life: your body, mind, family, community and financial health all have an impact on your wellbeing.


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