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How to be contentment





Can you learn how to be happy? You bet. Discover greater contentment with these tips.

Do you know how to be happy? Or are you waiting for happiness to find you? Despite what the fairy tales depict, happiness doesn't appear by magic. It's not even something that happens to you. It's something you can cultivate. So, what are you waiting for? Start discovering how to be happy. How to be happy: What science tells us Only 10 percent or so of the variation in people's reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. The bulk of what determines happiness is your personality and more modifiable your thoughts and behaviors. So, yes, you can learn how to be happy or at least happier. Although you may have thought, as many people do, that happiness comes from being born rich or beautiful or living a stress-free life, the reality is that those things don't confer lasting happiness. Indeed, how to be happy can't be boiled down to one thing. Happiness is the sum of your life choices. People who are happy seem to intuitively know this, and their lives are built on the following pillars:

Devoting time to family and friends Appreciating what they have Maintaining an optimistic outlook Feeling a sense of purpose Living in the moment

How to be happy: Practice, practice, practice The good news is that your choices, thoughts and actions can influence your level of happiness. It's not as easy as flipping a switch, but you can turn up your happiness level. Here's how to get started on the path to creating a happier you. Invest in relationships Surround yourself with happy people. Being around people who are content buoys your own mood. And by being happy yourself, you give something back to those around you.

Friends and family help you celebrate life's successes and support you in difficult times. Although it's easy to take friends and family for granted, these relationships need nurturing. Build up your emotional account with kind words and actions. Be careful and gracious with critique. Let people know that you appreciate what they do for you or even just that you're glad they're part of your life. Express gratitude Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It's a sense of wonder, appreciation and, yes, thankfulness for life. It's easy to go through life without recognizing your good fortune. Often, it takes a serious illness or other tragic event to jolt people into appreciating the good things in their lives. Don't wait for something like that to happen to you. Make a commitment to practice gratitude. Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life. When you find yourself thinking an ungrateful thought, try substituting a grateful one. For example, replace "my sister forgot my birthday" with "my sister has always been there for me in tough times." Let gratitude be the last thought before you go off to sleep. Let gratitude also be your first thought when you wake up in the morning. Cultivate optimism Develop the habit of seeing the positive side of things. You needn't become a Pollyanna after all, bad things do happen, and it would be silly to pretend otherwise. But you don't have to let the negatives color your whole outlook on life. Remember that what is right about you almost always trumps what is wrong about you. If you're not an optimistic person by nature, it may take time for you to change your pessimistic thinking. Start by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them. Then take a step back and ask yourself these key questions:

Is the situation really as bad as I think? Is there another way to look at the situation? What can I learn from this experience that I can use in the future?

Find your purpose People who strive to meet a goal or fulfill a mission whether it's growing a garden, caring for children or finding one's spirituality are happier than those who don't have such aspirations. Having a goal provides a sense of purpose, bolsters self-esteem and brings people together. What your goal is doesn't matter as much as whether the process of working toward it is meaningful to you. Try to align your daily activities with the long-term meaning and purpose of your life. Research studies suggest that relationships provide the strongest meaning and purpose to your life. So cultivate meaningful relationships. Are you engaged in something you love? If not, ask yourself these questions to discover how you can find your purpose:

What excites and energizes me? What are my proudest achievements? How do I want others to remember me? 2

Live in the moment Don't postpone joy waiting for a day when your life is less busy or less stressful. That day may never come. Instead, look for opportunities to savor the small pleasures of everyday life. Focus on the positives in the present moment. Don't spend your time rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Take time to stop and smell the flowers.


How To Be Happy: Tips For Cultivating Contentment And Resilience

by Madeline Romaniuk (Psychologist) Only 10% or so of the variation in people's reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. Factors such as the type of job you have and how much money you make, do not equate to lasting happiness. Research suggests that the concepts of contentment (life satisfaction) and resilience account for a large part of happiness. Being resilient means that when stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you're able to keep functioning both physically and psychologically. Resilience isn't about toughing it out, being stoic or going it alone. In fact, being aware of the problems, putting healthy coping strategies into action and knowing when to ask for help or reach out to others for support is a key component of being resilient. Resilience won't make your problems go away, but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress. Research has also shown that people who demonstrate high levels of resilience and contentment seem to consistently embody the following qualities: Strong connections and relationships Have a purpose Live in the moment Grateful Optimistic Proactive with problems Take care of themselves This list of qualities seems logical and fairly straight forward and you may be doing these things already. But for some people it can it can take some effort to cultivate these qualities. This article will examine each quality and give you some practical tips and strategies on how you can build these things into your life. 1) Invest in relationships

Strong social connections and relationships are a huge protective factor when faced with adversity, for a wide variety of reasons. Friends, family and social connections are important in helping you celebrate life's successes, gaining confidence and a feel a sense of belonging as well as providing support in difficult times. Although it's easy to take friends and family for granted, these relationships need nurturing. How?

-let people know that you appreciate them (we often think it but dont say it) -schedule social activities every week, for example phone a friend, send an email or text even if you dont have time to get together, ensure you keep in touch regularly -Be there for loved ones in times of need -Establish wider social connections by doing volunteer work, joining a community group, or introduce yourself to your neighbours 2) Live by your values Having a life purpose can feel like a daunting prospect, so you can look at i t in terms of living by your values. If you do this your life satisfaction will increase because you a living in a meaningful way, and your sense of what you would like to be, and how you are, come together. How?

-First find out what you truly value, take time to think about it. Ask yourself: -What things are important to me in relationships/work//leisure etc -Am I living by these things right now? -Develop some goals in line with those values -Make sure your goals are: - Observable (a behaviour) -realistic and achievable -time specific -worded in the positive -If you have a large long term goal, break it into smaller tasks and goals that you can accomplish each day/ week. -Remember that setbacks are likely to occur, but go easy on yourself setbacks and mistakes always help the learning process 3) Be present moment focused Don't spend too much of your time the thinking about the past or the future. This can lead to rumination about past mistakes or unhelpful worry about future challenges. Try to live in the moment as much as you can, and remain focused on the task at hand whether it is completing a work deadline, doing the washing, cooking dinner or spending time with others. How?

-participate in informal and structured mindfulness activities to help get you practised at being

present moment focussed - take the time to notice all things blue in a day - notice 5 things activity: Notice 5 things you see around you right now, notice 5 things you can hear right now, notice 5 things in contact will your body right now. 4) Express gratitude It is often easier to focus on the things we dont have in our life, or things that go wrong and forget about all the things we do have or things that are going right. Expressing gratitude can help you to have a more balance view on life. It can also be more than saying thank you, it can help create a sense of wonder, appreciation and widen perspective of things in your life. How?

-Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life. Choose a time of day when you have several minutes to step outside your life and to reflect. It may be first thing in the morning, or during lunch, or while commuting, or before bedtime. -Write a gratitude letter to someone you are grateful for (you dont ever have to give it to them) -Express gratitude in the moment when something you are appreciative of occurs -Create a gratitude journal, write each thing you are grateful for down and then you can always look back over the list -your list can include small things (grateful there is enough milk left for a cup of tea), to big things (grateful that you can sit and watch a beautiful sunset) 5) Cultivate optimism Being optimistic comes naturally to some, but for others being pessimistic is the usual way they may view a situation. Being op timistic doesnt mean you have to be positive about everything all the time, it means being able to have a more balanced view of things, having a wider perspective and seeing the good with the bad. Optimistic people view setbacks and difficulties as transient and believe they have the skills and abilities to overcome challenges. How?

-Start by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them, increase your awareness of when, where and how often they occur. -Challenge some of your negative thinking or pessimism by questioning yourself: -Is the situation really as bad as I think? -Is there another way to look at the situation? -What can I learn from this experience that I can use in the future? -Think about how you've coped with hardships in the past and consider the skills and strategies that helped you through rough times. 6) Be proactive and problem solve Some people are proactive with problems and attempt to solve them as soon as possible while some people may be avoidant of problems and try to ignore the problems or wait for them to go

away. Research suggests that those that are proactive generally have much better outcomes, and have greater well-being while those that avoid solving problems have greater levels of stress. How?

-Practice structured problem solving skills -Define the problem -Brainstorm possible solutions -Evaluate the possibilities (positive and negative of each option) -Select a solution -Implement the plan and follow up -Practicing problem-solving skills on a regular basis will help you be better prepared to cope when a serious challenge emerges. -Start working on resolving the issues/problems immediately. While there may not be any fast or simple solution, you can take steps toward making your situation better and less stressful. -Also focus on the progress that you have made thus far and planning your next steps, rather than becoming discouraged by the amount of work that still needs to be accomplished. 7) Take care of yourself When stressed and busy, participating in activities for your own pleasure or relaxation is often the first thing that goes out the window. But keeping up these activities on a regular basis can protect against increased distress and metal health difficulties. How?

-Schedule activities in your routine that you enjoy and find relaxing; reading a book, going for a walk, taking a bath, getting a massage. -Practice stress management and relaxation techniques; yoga, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer. -Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy as well as tasks that give you a sense of achievement. -Nurture a positive view of yourself; remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. Each of these tips are logical, straightforward and simple, but by making a small change in your life today and practicing just one thing out of each of the above tips, you will see that small changes can lead to big changes with a little commitment and effort.