Today’s blog post is based on an article I read last Summer in the Sunday Telegraph’s Body + Soul Magazine. Its titled 5 Elements of Happiness. The road to happiness is a much argued topic but new research may end the debate. It seems there are five areas essential to our wellbeing – Career, Relationships, Finances, Health & Community. As a Kiama Personal Trainer, I obviously help people with Health (and often Community) as well and it’s amazing how getting this area right first can improve all the others.
Extensive research across 150 countries reveals that a staggering 93 percent of people struggle to find happiness and improve their lives. The fatal mistake is to focus too intently on one area and fail to address other needs and broader fulfillment.
Tom Rath and Jim Harter, authors of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Element, argue that:
“as long as we allow narrow short term desires to rule, we can’t effect long term behavioural change.”
We need to find short term incentives that are consistent with our long term objectives – because only 7 percent of people enjoy sucess in all five areas and the genuine happiness that accompanies it.
The Elements of Happiness…
1. Work it out. People with high career wellbeing wake up every morning with something to look forward to doing. People who have the opportunity to use their strengths at work are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life. We spend so much of our waking life working, so it makes sense that people with high Career Wellbeing tend to be thriving in their lives overall.
2. You’ve got to have friends. People with at least three or four close friendships are happier and have higher wellbeing. Ideally we should be spending six hours a day relating to others – at work, home and online. Great relationships give people positive energy on a daily basis.
3. Rich Pickings. The perception that you have more than enough money to do what you want has three times more impact than your actual income on overall wellbeing. We should be thinking more about financial security rather than wealth – and spending on experiences rather than objects. The amount of money you have is not the best gauge of your financial wellbeing, let alone your life in general. It’s more about having the means to satisfy your wants, as well as long term security.
4. Get physical. People with thriving physical wellbeing effectively manage their health and happiness. Choosing food on it’s ability to nourish your body, getting enough sleep and exercising each day will lead to greater physical wellbeing. This not only has short term implications like looking and feeling better but it can help to improve your life in the long term. How many times have you heard that from your Kiama Personal Trainer?
5. Community spirit. Community wellbeing can be the differentiator between a good life and a great one. Getting involved in and giving back to your community brings incredible rewards. When we do things for others, we see how we can make a difference and this gives us confidence in our own ability to create change.
I’ll leave you with a great summary from Mr Happy himself – Dr Timothy Sharp from The Happiness Institute:
“I believe happiness is something you choose – where C.H.O.O.S.E is both a philosphy for taking responsibility and an acronym for six key positive psychology strategies:
Clarity (of purpose and direction)
Others (because relationships matter)
Strengths (which are more important to focus on than weaknesses)
Enjoyment (because life’s too short not to have fun with it)
I try to C.H.O.O.S.E happiness as often as possible, and guess what… it works!”