5,000 people were surveyed by the charity Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different. They found an amazing thing – the item that most impacts on our ability to be happy, was the very thing people indicated they practiced least! What is that key habit?
The survey itself consisted of 10 habits identified by an extensive literature review by Action for Happiness as being key to actually achieving happiness.
The 10 “happy habits” identified and surveyed by Action for Happiness are listed below. (And, groan, they create an acronym...can you see it?)
- Giving: do things for others
- Relating: connect with people
- Exercising: take care of your body
- Appreciating: notice the world around
- Trying out: keep learning new things
- Direction: have goals to look forward to
- Resilience: find ways to bounce back
- Emotion: take a positive approach
- Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are
- Meaning: be part of something bigger
The largest association with happiness was for self acceptance, indicating that self-acceptance was the leading indicator of happiness. Counter-intuitively, it was also the one that scored lowest for actually being practiced! Why might this be?
Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness, said: “Our society puts huge pressure on us to be successful and to constantly compare ourselves with others. This causes a great deal of unhappiness and anxiety. These findings remind us that if we can learn to be more accepting of ourselves as we really are, we’re likely to be much happier. The results also confirm for us that our day-to-day habits have a much bigger impact on our happiness than we might imagine”.
The group has three suggestions for increasing your ability to become self accepting, so that self acceptance can be a constant in your life.
- Be kind to yourself. How can you tell if you are being kind to yourself? Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Notice everything thing, large and small, that you do well.
- Ask your friends, colleagues and family to tell you what they see your strengths and values to be.
- Spend quiet time by yourself. Look inside and become comfortable with who you are. Simple meditation can be useful.
I realise that it's easier to say these things than it is to actually put them into practice in your life. I suppose the point is that happiness can be learned, and that learning to be happy is a rewarding and self-fulfilling thing - and that learning never ceases.
Are you learning to be happy? What happy habits do you practice in your life?