Solutions

10 questions to guarantee happiness

If the year hasn't been great for you, spend time reflecting on how you can make your life better in 2015.
 

1. HAVE I BEEN FULFILLING MY BASIC HUMAN NEEDS?
We all crave several basic needs, and achieving them makes us happy. Clinical psychologist 
Vyda Chai from Th!nk Psychological Services says these needs are: “A sense of love and belonging (which could be from a family member, partner, or a pet), power (the ability to do, act or accomplish something), nurture (in the form of activities or hobbies), freedom (being able to make your own choices) and challenge (for a sense of victory).”

Once you figure out which needs matter most to you, aim to live each day aligned with them. It will lead to more happiness and contentment in your life.

2. AM I LIVING IN THE MOMENT?

We spend too much time obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. Sanveen Kang, a clinical psychologist from Dynamics Psychological Practice, says: “Being in the present moment allows us to enjoy our unique individual experiences to the full.”

So allow yourself to fully absorb and appreciate what’s happening right this moment.

3. AM I NURTURING MYSELF WITH MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS?

Cecilia Chu, a clinical psychologist from Raffles Counselling Centre, says: “In a meaningful relationship, we know we are loved and accepted, even when we are not at our best.”

Surround yourself with confident, encouraging friends who enrich and empower you, and make you feel upbeat. While you can’t choose family, you can help them learn how to treat you better and what your expectations of them are.

4. DO I APPRECIATE THE GOOD THINGS IN MY LIFE?

Gratitude is a key factor in happiness. The simple act of giving thanks can bring us serenity and positivity. Rebecca Wright, a psychotherapist from Catalyst Counselling, says: “Practising gratitude on a daily basis, rather than obsessing about negative things, can increase your sense of harmony and contentment.”

Start a gratitude notebook, in which you write down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each
day. The more you do this, the easier it will become, and the more naturally thankful and happy you will feel.

5. AM I LIVING ACCORDING TO MY VALUES AND BELIEFS?

To be happy, it is crucial for you to live in tune with your values, belief systems and perceptions of success. Rebecca notes: “The most important thing is not to live your life endlessly trying to meet the expectations
of others.”

Sanveen says it’s useful to spend time thinking about what your values are – for example, career development, family time or personal qualities – and whether what you do in your daily life promotes them.

6. WHERE AM I IN MY LIFE COMPARED TO WHERE I WANT TO BE?

If money were no object, what type of work would you truly enjoy? Theresa Ong, a certified life coach and coaching division manager from Executive Coach International, believes that work is one of the most important domains of life. She adds: “Someone who has good self-esteem actively gets involved in work that they feel they are deserving of.”

If you feel stuck in a draining work routine you don’t enjoy, start taking small steps to learn new skills or re-educate yourself. Nathanael Seers Ong, a clinical hypnotherapist from Daseti, observes: “If what you are doing is not getting you what you want, change the way you do it.”

7. AM I ABLE TO RESOLVE ISSUES AND MOVE FORWARD?

We might think it’s better to just forget, but unresolved issues become emotional clutter. Theresa explains: “All the emotions from these unresolved issues add to our emotional baggage, where we carry the disappointments, hurt, sadness and loneliness we have experienced. It affects our physical, mental and emotional well-being.”

Instead of complaining, face your problems head-on. Aditee Ghate, an analytical psychologist from Jaagran, says: “No one is free of difficulties. The more conscious you are about yourself, the more centred you can be while dealing with the complexities of life.”

8. AM I SURE OF MY PURPOSE IN THE WORLD?

Many people get happiness from understanding their place in the world. Some believe in a greater power out there, while others feel that their actions – for example, volunteering, supporting a cause or helping others – add value to a wider community. Having a sense of this larger world can help us put into perspective the good and bad in life.

9. DO I BELIEVE IT WILL ALL BE OKAY?

Happy people feel an internal sense of calm. They trust that good things will happen and believe that setbacks are sometimes miracles in disguise. With this solid internal foundation, they know that no matter what happens, they will survive it.

As Lim Boon Leng, consultant psychiatrist from Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, observes: “Happiness is a journey and not a destination. In life, improvements can wax and wane, and we cannot expect things to always be improving.” So keep calm, and carry on.

10. AM I CULTIVATING HAPPINESS FROM WITHIN?

Many of us are guilty of deriving our happiness from external sources – possessions, money or relationships. But these are fleeting and unpredictable, with many elements that can change in an instant.

“For example, if someone derives her happiness from her partner, (that happiness) is subject to how the other person reacts to her and treats her. She may be happy one moment or devastated the next when they get into an argument,” says Theresa.

Deriving your happiness from within is a better bet – you have maximum control over your feelings and emotions, regardless of the world around you.

This article was originally published in Simply Her December 2014.

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