As Mental Health Week 2015 draws to a close, Rosie O’Keeffe writes about happiness, and outlines how we can each achieve our own ‘Great Dream’.
We all want it, and countless times have been told that there must be some sort of secret, a key, to this emotional state of utter fulfilment.
Books and movies have been made and written about it and oftentimes it is glorified to the extent where it seems unattainable to us. We ask ourselves, ‘how do I become happy?’ and crave things like love, friendship, and successful careers in hopes of finding it.
Following the recent buzz around the word ‘mindfulness’, and with an emphasis on positive psychology, an initiative called ‘Action for Happiness’ was set up in 2010 and has rapidly spread globally. There is now an Action for Happiness movement here in Cork along with ‘Happiness Cafés’ that essentially aim to provide a friendly and welcoming place to meet other people with a shared interest in promoting happiness and wellbeing. This thinking follows that everyone’s happiness is equal and that we should as a society try to increase both our own happiness and the happiness of others. Spread happiness like a virus.
The Action for Happiness follows the teachings of the Dali Lama and set out 10 Keys to Happier Living, or the ‘Great Dream’:
Giving – Generosity is hard-wired to the reward mechanisms in our brains. When we give our time, and kindness to others it helps them and us.
Relating – Not through a phone – really relating. Close relationships with family and friends provide love and support and increase our feelings of self-worth.
Exercising – Exercising instantly improves our mood and is good for our physical wellbeing too.
Appreciating – Being more mindful and aware of even our day-to-day life can help us get in tune with our feelings and stop us from dwelling on our problems.
Trying Out – Even if it is learning how to juggle, learning exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment.
Direction –We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable.
Resilience – We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. Although it may seem difficult, resilience, like many other life skills can be learned and practiced.
Emotion – Experiencing ositive emotions – like joy, gratitude, and pride – creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. Think glass half full rather than empty!
Acceptance – Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life and our resilience.
Meaning – People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. Whether it is your faith, job or friendships, it is important to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.
As Mental Health Week draws to a close here at UCC we should all strive to bear in mind a few valuable messages that have been given to us; you can never know how someone is feeling. Always talk to someone if you need to. It’s ok not to be ok. These simple clichés have been repeated so many times and yet they still ring true with all of us. Look out for yourself, and each other!