Happiness is a Perception, Not So Much a Reality!

Have you ever asked yourself a question: Am I happy?

The Myth of Happiness

You get stuck at this simple question with a simple YES/NO answer because of the many terrible things you encountered in your life. When you feel the emotion of joy, you could most likely answer that question quickly with a YES. When you are overwhelmed by whatever that troubles you, you doubt that whether you are satisfied with your life. This is an absolutely natural response and thinking pattern. We just need to be careful not to be obscured by it that happiness equals to the number of positive experiences we have.

Nothing is as simple as that.

And if that’s the case, some people would have been destined to be happy always while others are doomed to be miserable all their lives, which is TOTALLY NOT THE CASE.

Nothing lasts forever.

Positive experiences undoubtedly bring positive emotions like joy, ecstasy and satisfaction, but remember no positive experiences would last forever. Just like unfortunate events, they come and go, so positive emotions also would dissipate over time.

You won’t stay at your peak moment all day long, right?

At this point, you might ponder the question: Then WHAT’S MAINTAINING MY HAPPINESS? Is it reliving the positive experiences in our minds? Or is it creating positive memories by ourselves? The answer is YES, YOU’RE RIGHT! But which way is more effective? Until now, there is no definitive answer.

The Key to Happiness — the Grateful Mindset Experiment

What’s important is that we control things that we can. You may think that this is another cliché, but this is a fundamental belief in psychology, and is backed up by lots of empirical research.

One of them is done by a distinguished gratitude expert Watkins (2004) and his colleagues at Eastern Washington University. Grateful people have long been shown to be happier and live longer than less grateful ones. So, they would like to know how does the memory content of grateful individuals differ from less grateful ones.

Participants were first asked to fill in a questionnaire GRAT (to check their gratitude level), and then to recall intentionally positive memories and list them all out in 3 minutes.

They also asked them to check boxes at the bottom of the recall sheet if there were negative memories popping out during the process. (If 3 negative memories appear in your head when you are focusing on recalling positive memories, then check 3 boxes.)

Besides, they were  given a checklist of events and were instructed to indicate the frequency of objective and subjective positive events as well as negative events in their lives.

This whole procedure repeated for the second time except that people now had to intentionally recall negative events, and indicate the frequency of intrusive positive memories.

Results — Gratitude helps you happy again through recalling happy memories!

Not surprisingly, grateful people did recall more pleasant memories than less grateful ones. This means happy memories are more likely to surface when we have a grateful heart always. These happy memories can come in handy especially when you are in overwhelming situations. Happy memories make you feel satisfied with your life and appreciate others every day. Happy memories also help lift you up when you feel depressed. In fact, their research have shown that gratitude and happy memories support each other despite depressive symptoms. They remind you that there are still resources you can use, people you can rely on, and most importantly, you will be happy again, just as you did every time after overcoming a difficult situation. They also remind you not to lose hope because there is still good in evil.

It All Begins with Your Perspective!

Another great finding from the study is that in order to develop a grateful heart, how you interpret life events is more important than how many positive events really did occur. When you have more life events that you interpret as positive experiences, you tend to be more grateful.

This could be a little tricky when it comes to difficult situations. E.g. You failed a job interview. This could be bad, but grateful people might think that this experience helps them recognize their strengths and weaknesses, further develop their strengths and find a career path that suits them more. This is a subjective positive experience. If you are grateful that this experience make you know yourself more and grow, then this could be transformed into a positive memory.

Gratitude Helps Transform Your Negative Memories

One more thing you need to know: the impact of negative memories dissipates faster for grateful people than less grateful ones. The happy memories are slower in losing their joyous influence on grateful people.

In other words, for a grateful person, if the happy rating for a positive event now is 10, it might reduce to 7 after one year. For a not so grateful person, the happy rating for a positive event might drop from 10 to 4 over a year.

Negative memories work the same way, but in an opposite direction. A -10 negative event might become less unpleasant as -5 for a grateful person after one year of digesting the event, but it might still be -10 or showing a small improvement as -8 for a less grateful person.

Once again, it is not about how many bad things have happened to us, but how we feel and think about it.

There are many ways to make us happy and to maintain happiness. Being grateful is one of them.

One tiny tip to feel grateful always: remember the happiest memory you have and treasure it always. If you have watched or read the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, you would know how reliving the happiest memory in your life, no matter how large or small that memory is, protects you from depressed mood, difficult times and situation where you hardly find hope in it.

Just as Harry relived his happiest memory with his parents to defend against the Dementors, you can remind yourself the happiest moments you have when facing hard times. Happiness is a Perception, not so much a reality!

Have you ever asked yourself a question: Am I happy?

The Myth of Happiness

You get stuck at this simple question with a simple YES/NO answer because of the many terrible things you encountered in your life. When you feel the emotion of joy, you could most likely answer that question quickly with a YES. When you are overwhelmed by whatever that troubles you, you doubt that whether you are satisfied with your life. This is an absolutely natural response and thinking pattern. We just need to be careful not to be obscured by it that happiness equals to the number of positive experiences we have.

Nothing is as simple as that.

And if that’s the case, some people would have been destined to be happy always while others are doomed to be miserable all their lives, which is TOTALLY NOT THE CASE.

Nothing lasts forever.

Positive experiences undoubtedly bring positive emotions like joy, ecstasy and satisfaction, but remember no positive experiences would last forever. Just like unfortunate events, they come and go, so positive emotions also would dissipate over time.

You won’t stay at your peak moment all day long, right?

At this point, you might ponder the question: Then WHAT’S MAINTAINING MY HAPPINESS? Is it reliving the positive experiences in our minds? Or is it creating positive memories by ourselves? The answer is YES, YOU’RE RIGHT! But which way is more effective? Until now, there is no definitive answer.

The Key to Happiness — the Grateful Mindset Experiment

What’s important is that we control things that we can. You may think that this is another cliché, but this is a fundamental belief in psychology, and is backed up by lots of empirical research.

One of them is done by a distinguished gratitude expert Watkins (2004) and his colleagues at Eastern Washington University. Grateful people have long been shown to be happier and live longer than less grateful ones. So, they would like to know how does the memory content of grateful individuals differ from less grateful ones.

Participants were first asked to fill in a questionnaire GRAT (to check their gratitude level), and then to recall intentionally positive memories and list them all out in 3 minutes.

They also asked them to check boxes at the bottom of the recall sheet if there were negative memories popping out during the process. (If 3 negative memories appear in your head when you are focusing on recalling positive memories, then check 3 boxes.)

Besides, they were  given a checklist of events and were instructed to indicate the frequency of objective and subjective positive events as well as negative events in their lives.

This whole procedure repeated for the second time except that people now had to intentionally recall negative events, and indicate the frequency of intrusive positive memories.

Results — Gratitude helps you happy again through recalling happy memories!

Not surprisingly, grateful people did recall more pleasant memories than less grateful ones. This means happy memories are more likely to surface when we have a grateful heart always. These happy memories can come in handy especially when you are in overwhelming situations. Happy memories make you feel satisfied with your life and appreciate others every day. Happy memories also help lift you up when you feel depressed. In fact, their research have shown that gratitude and happy memories support each other despite depressive symptoms. They remind you that there are still resources you can use, people you can rely on, and most importantly, you will be happy again, just as you did every time after overcoming a difficult situation. They also remind you not to lose hope because there is still good in evil.

It All Begins with Your Perspective!

Another great finding from the study is that in order to develop a grateful heart, how you interpret life events is more important than how many positive events really did occur. When you have more life events that you interpret as positive experiences, you tend to be more grateful.

This could be a little tricky when it comes to difficult situations. E.g. You failed a job interview. This could be bad, but grateful people might think that this experience helps them recognize their strengths and weaknesses, further develop their strengths and find a career path that suits them more. This is a subjective positive experience. If you are grateful that this experience make you know yourself more and grow, then this could be transformed into a positive memory.

Gratitude Helps Transform Your Negative Memories

One more thing you need to know: the impact of negative memories dissipates faster for grateful people than less grateful ones. The happy memories are slower in losing their joyous influence on grateful people.

In other words, for a grateful person, if the happy rating for a positive event now is 10, it might reduce to 7 after one year. For a not so grateful person, the happy rating for a positive event might drop from 10 to 4 over a year.

Negative memories work the same way, but in an opposite direction. A -10 negative event might become less unpleasant as -5 for a grateful person after one year of digesting the event, but it might still be -10 or showing a small improvement as -8 for a less grateful person.

Once again, it is not about how many bad things have happened to us, but how we feel and think about it.

There are many ways to make us happy and to maintain happiness. Being grateful is one of them.

One tiny tip to feel grateful always: remember the happiest memory you have and treasure it always. If you have watched or read the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, you would know how reliving the happiest memory in your life, no matter how large or small that memory is, protects you from depressed mood, difficult times and situation where you hardly find hope in it.

Just as Harry relived his happiest memory with his parents to defend against the Dementors, you can remind yourself the happiest moments you have when facing hard times. Happiness is a Perception, not so much a reality!

Are you ready to live a happy and meaningful life?

The Happiness Map Reveals…

3 Powerful Ways to Lift You Up from Misery and Start Your Day Happy!

  •  Acquire a positive mindset 
  •  Overcome your negative thoughts
  •  Wake up every morning feeling empowered

It all starts with you!  Grab your free resource guide below!

I’m ready to transform my life!

100% secure.  We Never Share Your Email.   Privacy Policy

Are you ready to live a happy and meaningful life?

The Happiness Map Reveals…

3 Powerful Ways to Lift You Up from Misery and Start Your Day Happy!

  •  Acquire a positive mindset 
  •  Overcome your negative thoughts
  •  Wake up every morning feeling empowered

It all starts with you!  Grab your free resource guide below!

I’m ready to transform my life!

100% secure.  We Never Share Your Email.   Privacy Policy

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