Focus On The Positive To Find Happiness

Happiness takes many forms, from the momentary excitement of the skier schussing down a mountain to the quiet satisfaction of a completed work project well done.  Studies have shown that happy people are often healthier than people who report that they’re not particularly happy.  In addition, it just feels good to be happy.

Some people have a tendency to focus on what they don’t have or what’s not working for them.  By shifting their attention to what they do feel good about—what pleases them, what they’re grateful for—they can often increase their level of happiness.

If you are not aware of what makes you happy, pretend you’re a detective looking for clues—about yourself.  Start by paying close attention to your body because it can give you very useful information.  You can ask yourself:

  • Does a particular person, place or situation energize you or drain you?
  • Do you find yourself naturally smiling or frowning in reaction to particular people, things or experiences?
  • Are you drawn toward a person, place or situation or repelled by it?

Happiness leans toward the positive reactions.

Other ways to begin noticing what makes you happy:

  • Keep a daily journal in which you answer the question “ What made me feel good today, even if only for a few moments?”
  • Have a “celebration buddy” and call or e-mail that person regularly with two or more items you want to celebrate such as a beautiful sunset, a promotion, how the kids delighted you, helping an elderly neighbor.  Anything counts if it was meaningful to you.
  • Enroll trusted friends, colleagues and/or relatives to point out to you when you look, sound and act happy, since we often don’t notice these expressions about ourselves.
  • Experiment with new behaviors to see what makes you happy including volunteering with an organization that is important, taking dancing lessons, starting to bicycle again, cooking a new recipe, making a new friend.

Resource:  Psychologist, researcher and author Martin Seligman’s Web site:

*Originally published  3/28/06 in The Kansas City Star “FYI Solutions” Section, “An Authentic Life” Column as a series of articles contributed by Kansas City life coach Lorrie Crystal Eigles. Eigles provided monthly insights, tactics, and encouragement to help readers realize their potential and lead more rewarding lives.