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Naluri5 min read

The Secret to Happiness: How and Why Your Mindset Matters

Every article, blog post, and self-help book on happiness begins from the same position -- happiness starts within us. Those that make the best of what they have been the happiest; looking on the bright side makes us more comfortable; happiness is a skill that you can train -- and yet, many of us still find it challenging to hold on to the positive, pleasant feelings we equate with happiness.

And it’s frustrating.


Chasing happiness drives it away, finding meaning brings it closer

A common grumble sounds like, “I’m trying hard to be happy, but the more I try, the harder it gets.” There’s a myth that we must keep ourselves sustained with “positive” life events. The more positive, the better. This is perhaps why people aspire to the significant positive moments – the wedding day, a work promotion, keys to a new house, the holiday – and when the moment passes, or worse, when it doesn’t happen, all happiness is gone. The problem is that it equates happiness with external experiences and intense delight, leaving us chasing what “feels good” as if it’s an elusive high.

Placing value on external definitions of happiness gives things, events, or people the power to dictate how we feel. When that moment is gone, so is the feeling.

Happiness is a byproduct of willingly doing what you enjoy, and only you can determine if that action is challenging, beautiful, worthwhile, or meaningful. In his book Man’s Search For Meaning, Victor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and philosopher, wrote, “What man needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.” And it’s what brings meaning that leads us towards happiness.

The key to finding meaning and happiness is to understand our intrinsic motivations. These internal “whys” drive our behaviours because they are naturally significant and gratifying to us. Whether you enjoy singing in the shower, organising your daily to-do list, or waking up every morning to go cycling, you do it because you want to, because “feeling good” is something you give to yourself.


Appreciating the ordinary moments trains us to be happier

Here’s another way to cultivate a mindset for happiness – be mindful. Humans have a terrible habit of retaining bad memories better than positive ones, so we often equate happiness to big, extraordinary moments. This also means we overlook the seemingly insignificant moments that please us.

But life isn’t like the movies, and it isn’t amazing all the time. Instead, it’s made up of OK cups of coffee that perk you up in the morning, evening walks as the sun cools down, and laughing with loved ones over something silly that probably won’t be remembered tomorrow. Only when we recognise these moments do we stop waiting to be happy and realise that we’re probably more satisfied than we thought.

Luckily, this is what all those articles, blogs, and books mean when they say that you can train happiness. It starts with being more mindful and present and evolves into gratitude, appreciation, and happiness.

Here’s a small mindfulness challenge for your day:

The next time you realise something decent is happening, stop whatever you’re doing and pay attention to how you feel. Take note of it. Savour the moment. Repeat this the next time something else quite okay happens. And again after that. You might end the day feeling a little more satisfied and happier than expected.


Experiencing all your emotions, even those that don’t feel so nice

Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison once said, “I want to feel what I feel. Even if it’s not happiness.” She was talking about her son’s death and how no consoling words could soothe her loss. Avoiding “hard” emotions like anger, worry, and sadness does not make us happier.

Emotional diversity is expressing and processing many positive and negative emotions. A study on the emotional ecosystem found that those better able to express their emotions were less likely to be depressed, visited the doctor less, exercised more, and generally had better health than those with a more limited emotional range.

Happiness, like all emotions, is in a constant state of flux. Placing too much weight on positive emotions alone can cause us to be less resilient when change or something unexpected happens.


Self-awareness leads to self-compassion

Happiness relies on our ability to see ourselves clearly and understand who we are and how we fit into the world. Self-awareness can make us more proactive, boost our acceptance, and encourage positive self-development. But, we are often more harsh and critical with ourselves than we need to be, fixating on not being able to “be happy” in the way we think we should or how we perceive other people to be.

Self-compassion encourages us to be kind and more supportive of ourselves as opposed to being judgemental. Self-compassion also helps us react, accept, and manage our emotions better.


Happiness starts with you; teaching yourself to see it is the hardest part

The bottom line is that happiness is a choice. But this choice only becomes apparent with a positive mindset creating the right environment that makes it easier to be happier.

As creatures of habit, it may seem hard to build a more positive mindset for happiness. What can help is a coach – someone who can offer a new perspective or someone who can highlight the good when staying mindful becomes tough. Coaches can also help navigate your emotions and circumstances in a more balanced way, making a massive difference in your mindset. If you need support, Naluri offers remote therapy and asynchronous chat with a team of coaches led by a Mental Health Coach who can help you identify your intrinsic motivations, form better habits, and define a happier, healthier version of yourself.


This article was brought to you by Naluri’s Mental Health Coaches. Naluri empowers you to develop healthy lifestyle habits, achieve meaningful health outcomes, and be healthier and happier through personalised coaching, structured programmes, self-guided lessons, and health tools and devices. Download the Naluri App today or contact for more information on utilising digital health coaching and therapy to become a happier, healthier you.

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