So You Want to Be Happy…


Megan Mattei, Senior Staff Writer

All of us want to be happy. Do you know anybody who doesn’t want to be happy? Then, why does a recent Gallup poll report that only 52 percent of Americans report being “very happy”? It is true that the pressures of school, athletics, jobs, and everything in between can push a person to the point of exhaustion. But, this daily stress should not keep us from being content. Everybody has a different vision of what happiness is, whether it be a vacation, listening to your favorite song, or a good meal, but there are a few things that are guaranteed to put you in a better mood.

Be grateful for what you have. Yes, this saying is cheesy and clichéd, but being thankful for what you have will improve your mood and satisfaction with your life. If you’re having difficulty maintaining this mindset, create a list of things for which you’re thankful. It can be anything from the fantastic vacation you just went on or simply having woken up this morning.

In addition to being thankful, have a better attitude. I know what you’re thinking; I am so wise. Of course, it might be that am I full of clichés. But, you must have a positive attitude. In all the struggles of daily life, a person must choose to see the bright side. For example, Mondays can be rough. It is the first day of the school week and you, like many, were just getting into your weekend. Yet, you could also remember that you have another week of opportunities ahead and that Mondays are usually free of tests. The way in which a person speaks is an extension of this mindset. If you speak only of what is wrong in your life and of your difficulties, you will never be satisfied. Words really can hurt.

Our behavior is just as important. We often do not practice the things that naturally make the body happier like exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep every night. Even smiling improves one’s mood; it releasing the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine. Even keeping busy increases happiness. It imbues people with a sense of purpose. This does not mean that we should overpack our schedules (more stress is not the answer) but that not activating the mind depresses one’s mood. These are decisions a person much make to find what many think to be the elusive emotion of happiness.

The ultimate thing that will make you happier than anything else is relationships. As Shawn Achor explains in The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, the one characteristic that distinguishes the happiest 10 percent of people from everybody else is social relationships. This top percentile found comfort and support in strong social relationships. Achor goes so far as to say that “social support was a far greater predictor of happiness than any other factor, more than GPA, family income, SAT scores, age, gender, or race.” If happiness is what you’re looking for, strengthen your relationships. This includes not only friends and family, but teachers, coworkers and acquaintances. After all, humans are inherently social creatures.

It is true that everyone has their own notion of happiness but changing your outlook and your behavior with these simple tips is guaranteed to increase your mood.