Boosting Your Happiness


If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!
If you’re happy and you know it, then you’re face will surely show it.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

Surely many of you sang that song as a child or sang it with your own children as they were growing up. It’s a great song to get kiddos moving and help them be active. But this song begs the question . . . what if you aren’t happy?

Merriam-Webster (2019) describes happiness as, “a state of well-being and contentment,” with synonyms of “blessedness, bliss, felicity, gladness, and joy.” These kind of emotions might be felt at one’s wedding or the birth of a child. Or, perhaps you are the kind of person who find happiness in the simple, little moments of life.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 15:13 that, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed,” and in Proverbs 17:22 that, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” God did not make us to be “crushed;” He created us for ultimate happiness–eternity with Him.

But honestly, it is impossible to be happy all the time because of the presence of sin in our world. Sad things, bad things, scary things are all a part of everyday reality. However, it is important to continue seeking happiness; through the power of God this is possible (Phil. 4:13).

Science has shown that spiritual people are better at processing stress, find more meaning in the midst of chaos, are more likely to have gratitude during life’s pleasurable events, and are more gracefully process (and perhaps demonstrate joy?) during difficult ones (McGinley, 2019). By spending time in prayer and meditation, it is possible to boost your happiness as you grow closer to your Creator.

Here are some other ways to give your happiness as boost:

Find joy in the little things. Maybe you relish the way dipping your toes into a cool stream feels on a hot day. Perhaps you enjoy that first cookie when it comes right out of the oven. Maybe it’s that feeling of sinking into bed after a long day. Life is made up of little moments that help shape our experiences and who we are. By finding joy in the little things you can actually boost your overall happiness.

Smile more–even if you don’t feel like it. One scientific study (Niedenthal, 2007) showed that even a forced smile can make you feel happier. When you smile, activates neural brain circuits associated with well-being and happiness.

Connect with others. There’s an old saying that says, “No man is an island.” Even God saw in the perfect Garden of Eden that it was not good for Adam to be alone. From the beginning, humans have been wired for community and connection. Engaging with others is a great way to boost your overall happiness. Plus, happiness is a “collective phenomenon.” Research (Fowler & Christakis, 2008) has shown that people who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to themselves be happy in the future.

Ask for help if you need it. This one can be tough, but it goes along with connecting with others. Finding people with whom you feel safe to be yourself–even when you are vulnerable–is very important. Others may have new insight into your struggles or be able to tangibly offer help. As they say, “It’s okay not to be okay.”

So even if you aren’t feeling happy today, engage with your Heavenly Father, and do what you can to boost your happiness. You won’t regret it, and who knows–you might even make someone else happy in the process!

References

Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2008). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: Longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. BMJ, 337.

Happiness. (2019). In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved September 12, 2019, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happiness

Kane, S. (2018). 15 ways to increase your happiness. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/15-ways-to-increase-your-happiness/

McGinley, K. (2019). The correlation between spirituality and happiness. Retrieved from https://chopra.com/articles/the-correlation-between-spirituality-and-happiness

Niedenthal, P. M. (2007). Embodying emotion. Science, 316(5827).