Practice Makes Perfect Even When It Comes to Happiness
So often we think of happiness as something that just happens to us. But happiness is more like a skill (or set of skills). When we practice those skills we can more easily generate happiness for ourselves.
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"Have you found happiness?” Whenever I hear this question, I wonder why happiness is being treated like a lost set of car keys. When we talk about “finding” happiness, it says that we think happiness is something we should look for. The truth is that happiness is something we must build.
It turns out, happiness emerges when you build a certain set of skills – things like positivity, resilience, and mindfulness. If you develop these skills, you will experience more happiness. And, if you practice them enough... they’ll become automatic.
What do I mean by "automatic"? Well, think back to when you learned to ride a bike. It was really hard at first, right? But when you ride a bike now, you just do it... automatically... with out a lot of effort. This is what can happen with happiness... when you practice the right skills. You won't have to work at "finding" happiness anymore. It'll just exist.
Remember, you don't find happiness, you create it
How do we make happiness automatic?
Well, it’s really quite simple. You see, the thing about the brain is that it’s got a lot to do, and it works really hard. When you do something a lot, your brain makes it's job easier by creating shortcuts to save time and energy. So when you practice happiness, you're basically telling your brain, "Hey brain, I plan on feeling this way a lot. Automate it!"
Then you've just trained your brain to automatically respond with happiness, joy, and positivity! Cool huh?
Now the hard part. How do you practice, practice, practice the right skills? To start, here are 101 things you can do to get happier. For a more discussion of skills you can build, check out these articles on positive thinking, resiliency, and creating a happiness plan that include a variety of different happiness skills you can practice.
These are just a few resources that can help you build a larger variety of skills that lead to happiness. For more, check out our happiness program.
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.