Earlier this week and article in the U.K.’s Daily Mail caught my attention. The article is titled, The Key to Happiness? Self Esteem. Psychologists at the University of Missouri-Columbia interviewed 700 students in the United States and Korea. The students were asked what their most satisfying experiences were and to explain why these experiences made them happy. Here is what they said: Being true to themselves, being competent at activities, having close bonds with other people, and feeling respect for themselves topped the list. The article did not offer any tips or suggestions on how to accomplish these desires, so I will put forward a few of my own.
Here are Four Simple Ways to Increase Your Happiness:
- Being true to yourself: The best way to do this is to be your authentic self. Being authentic and living an authentic life is a choice. It means wholeheartedly recognizing and accepting your worthiness. One way to self-test if you are living authentically is to list and prioritize what you value most. Once you have done this you can compare your values to how you are actually living your life each day. Are the activities that you participate in and the choices you make each day aligned with your values? If so, good for you, keep up the good behavior. If not, what changes and different choices do you need to make in order to be true to yourself and others?
- Being competent in activities: The first thing I recommend that you do to increase your competence in your activities is to determine what it is that you love to do. Do you love to dance, paint, participate in a sport, cook, or sing in a rock band? What is it for you? And then, practice. Even so called protégés practice hours each day in order to achieve their highest level of competence in their craft.
- Having close bonds with other people: My short answer, put down your phone. My long answer, put down your damn phone. Seriously, although smartphones provide information about anything at our fingertip 7/24, the prolific and mindless use of them has people feeling more disconnected than any time in history. Close bonds require nurturing, respect and honor. Instead of texting a friend, call them and set up a lunch date and during your lunch stay off your phones. Instead of texting or emailing a thank to someone, take the time to write and send a good old fashioned note, put a stamp on it and send it. Instead of posing as someone you are not on Facebook, get out into the real world and be yourself!
- Feeling respect for yourself: The only way to feel respect for yourself is to actually respect yourself. You must stop the negative self-talk. If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend or someone you care about, don’t say it to yourself. Instead of needing to be liked by everyone else, start liking yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others. ‘Comparison’ is fear-based and the thief of joy. Finally, focus on all that you have and all that you do well. Celebrate yourself and your small victories. Take good care of you because you are the only you that you have!
I like what the research found and I also believe that is your responsibility to choose happiness, truth, competence, connection and self-respect. I will leave you with a quote by Mark Twain as your “Takeaway Truth”.
“When nobody else celebrates you, learn to celebrate yourself. When nobody else compliments you, then compliment yourself. It’s not up to other people to keep you encouraged. It’s up to you. Encouragement should come from the inside.”