Happiness is an abstract idea that can be challenging to harness. During your recovery you might struggle with the concept of happiness and wonder: How do I become happy? Why doesn’t happiness come naturally to me? What even is happiness?
Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher and the author of The Happiness Advantage, believes that happiness shapes perception. The practice of positivity can affect a person’s overall life satisfaction. Happiness can help you manage your negative emotions and find meaning and purpose in your recovery.
In The Happiness Advantage, Achor does not refer to happiness as a fleeting emotion of excitement, exhilaration, or joy. Individuals build happiness over time through experiences of positive emotions which create life satisfaction. Happiness embodies the concept of well-being and can lead to the following:
- Better mental health outcomes
- Financial success
- Healthy coping skills
- Supportive relationships
- Good physical health
A 2005 meta-analysis of 225 studies published in the scientific journal Psychological Bulletin found short-term practices of positive cognitions, behaviors, and emotions can lead to long-term growth and happiness. The more you emote happiness the more satisfied you’ll be with your life. Happiness leads to personal self-growth as a natural motivator. For instance, having an interest or passion in a subject can lead to exploring it and eventually developing expertise in it.
Additionally, we need to reframe our understanding of happiness. Happiness is not the avoidance of negative feelings; instead, it is the experience of positive emotions through intense negative ones during distressing times. You have to go through negativity to appreciate the positivity.
Happiness seems to coincide with ego resilience. Ego resilience is a personality trait that allows for stability through the person’s ability to adapt to changing environments. This includes the ability to bounce back from distressing situations. Ego resilience can present itself as:
- Few behavioral problems in early childhood
- Better interpersonal and intrapersonal adjustment throughout a lifetime
- Identifying opportunities
- Faster cardiovascular recovery
Ego resilience and positive emotions are a little like the chicken or the egg. They affect each other bidirectionally. Positive emotions can lead to ego resilience which also tends to create positive emotions.
How to Use The Happiness Advantage
In The Happiness Advantage, Achor outlines seven steps to harness your happiness. Harnessing your happiness can help you manage distressing situations during your recovery. The more you practice these steps, the easier they will become.
#1. Working Harder Won’t Make You Happier
American culture is filled with messaging telling us that success leads to happiness. Once you get to the place you want to be going, you will achieve happiness. This model of happiness doesn’t work though because you constantly move the goal post. The constant change often results in stress. Instead, Achor encourages you to optimize your work ethic through happiness. Use happiness for motivation and find success in your happiness rather than the other way around.
#2. Adjusting How You Perceive Your Circumstances
Achor doesn’t believe in pushing negative emotions away and burying them beneath a facade of positivity. Instead, he asks you to find positivity even in distressing circumstances. Rethink how you perceive the situation that you are in. You may find that you ignore positivity in favor of negativity.
#3. Searching for Happy Experiences in Your Day
Sometimes negative experiences stand out more than positive ones do. Negative emotions may come from a potential threat; thus, you pay more attention to them. Making an active effort to find positivity in your day or even in your life can help produce happiness. You can practice this by writing down three different things you appreciate each day.
#4. Our Failures are Steps to Success
Fear of failure may cause many negative emotions that cause you to spiral. In American culture, we equate failure to a lack of self-worth. Shawn Achor encourages the acceptance of failure as steps to success. Instead of perceiving failure as shameful or a sign that you’ll never succeed, think of it as a natural step in the process of whatever goal you’re trying to achieve.
#5. Solve Multiple Small Problems to Gain Momentum
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try starting your day by addressing small solvable problems. Approaching your morning this way will help you jump-start your day and give you a sense of accomplishment. After fixing small problems, you will feel more confident when you address a more complicated problem or task.
#6. Eliminate Roadblocks
What’s getting in your way of accomplishing your goal, and how can it be eliminated? You may have large roadblocks that you’ll need to take down over time. You might also have some easy roadblocks that you can take down immediately.
For example, you might encounter a roadblock such as a distractable environment preventing you from focusing on an important task. In this case, you can simply move to a different location to complete the task. On the other hand, fears or phobias that stand in your way will be harder roadblocks to remove.
#7. Relying on Friends & Family for Support
You should explore happiness with others because social interaction and support boost emotional health. Your friends and family can support you in a variety of ways depending on your goal and your relationship with each individual. A person might be able to offer you professional expertise, financial help, or a shoulder to cry on. Having trusting and reliable relationships can help relieve everyday stress because you can rely on others to have answers you don’t have.
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor could lend you a positive perspective on yourself and your life that helps your recovery. Making an effort to notice positivity in your life can help you live a happier, healthier, and more productive life. Restoration Recovery Center believes that everyone finds happiness in their own way on their own time, which is why we allow our patients to stay as long as they need. Our professionals can work with you to learn coping mechanisms and mental health management tools that will help you find positivity and purpose in your life. We see you as a person, not a number, and we are here to listen to your wants and needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, you can achieve long-term sobriety through body and mind-focused treatments. Please call Restoration Recovery Center at (888) 290-0925 to start healing.