What makes you happy?
Video games? When your favorite sports team wins? A promotion at work or a text from your sweetheart? A 3-day weekend? Or perhaps a warm macadamia nut cookie with some vanilla ice cream on top?
Some or all of these might bring us a temporary boost in happiness. We’ve all felt that warm feeling or adrenaline rush when something fun and exciting happens. But scientists suggest there are other types of happiness we can hack into that tend to last a bit longer.
There’s pleasure, which is what many people think of when they hear the word happiness. Your favorite food, a rollercoaster ride, and even sexual intimacy bring a rush of good feelings. This type of happiness brings us pleasure in the moment, but then tends to settle down. After a third cookie, we don’t feel quite the same pleasure as the first bite.
Another kind of happiness is about having purpose and meaning in your life. This type of happiness tends to last longer. It’s doing something kind for someone else. It’s sending your partner a text of appreciation for making you breakfast. Or donating time at a local shelter to feed the homeless. It’s slowing down and enjoying the deeper parts of our lives.
This deeper level of happiness is more than pleasure. It’s discovering who you are, basking in gratitude, and reflecting on the good things in your life.
Here are three happy hacks that lead to a deeper level of happiness.
- Find the gems in your past. Anyone who wants to find a gem must be willing to do some digging and search for it. We all have things in our past we wish we could change, or wish didn’t happen. When bad things happen, we may think that nothing good can ever come from it. Life’s treasures are often found after digging through challenges and disappointments.
What are the gems in your past? Who are the people who helped you get where you are today? What experiences shaped who you are? Spending time reflecting on the good in your life can bring joy and feelings of humility and gratitude.
- Enjoy today. Take time to slow down and focus on life’s beauty instead of its stress and challenges. Pay attention to who you’re with, what you’re doing, even if that’s slowing down to savor the nachos you’re about to devour.
What good things are happening in your life? At work? In relationships? It’s important to slow down and enjoy the moment.
- Look forward to tomorrow. Happy people find things to look forward to in the future. Talk about the upcoming weekend, an upcoming vacation, or night with friends or family. It’s fun to plan and build up the excitement and anticipation for things you’re looking forward to.
People who are excited and hopeful about the future are likely to have better life journeys. When we look for and expect to find good things, we usually find them. How do you face today or tomorrow? Do you awake each day saying to yourself, “Today is going to be a great day.” Those who look eagerly for the future are happier.
Life is full of fun and pleasurable things. But we can also experience deeper levels of happiness with the three happy hacks above. Give it a try. Look for the gems in your past. Find and savor the good in the present. And look forward with anticipation to the future.
And yes, it’s probably okay to also enjoy the warm cookie and ice cream!
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