“I figured it out. I know how to be happy.”
A few years ago my friend Jet and I had a conversation that has stuck with me to this day and is becoming increasingly relevant in how I manage my perspective.
Jet is the kind of person that everyone loves to be around. He is a constant source of light and the type of person who always has a positive attitude. Jet told me that during that year he had come to realize that happiness in his life does not come from a relationship, a job, or the grades he gets in school. Rather, happiness for him is a combination of things that ground him. These are the things that cannot be shaken by the external factors in his life.
At the time, Jet was an engineering and business student and told me that he believed everyone has a formula of things they can do to create a positive outcome: happiness.
I spent the next few months thinking about what Jet said and worked on developing my own happiness formula. I continue to learn about what goes into unshakable happiness in my life and I practice using it when I don’t feel like myself.
This has proven to be highly effective in my life and for that reason, I believe that everyone has a happiness formula. You just have to take the time to figure out what exactly it is. It takes time, patience, and reflection. But once you start to develop this formula it is a powerful tool.
Now in unprecedented times, during a global health pandemic, I use my happiness formula more than ever.
My happiness formula is rooted in gratitude. When I feel overwhelmed or sad, I know that practicing gratitude will help me re-center. In any situation, I can only control what I can control, and the one thing I can always control is my mindset.
My formula is a combination of things that I can rely on to maintain a positive mindset.
These are the 5 parts of my happiness formula:
1. Handwritten letters:
Research conducted at UC Berkeley explored the impact of gratitude on our mental health which suggests that the benefits of gratitude include increased happiness and life satisfaction.
I do this by telling the people in my life how much they mean to me. Handwriting a letter is an opportunity to practice gratitude and describe the positive impact someone has had on you. I write about the moments that touched me, the things someone did to inspire me, and what they have taught me.
When I finish writing a letter of gratitude whatever was weighing on me always feels a little lighter. It puts what matters into perspective. Ultimately what matters to me are the people I care about and the person I am becoming.
2. Acknowledging the Little things:
Studies found that people who consciously count their blessings are happier.
When I feel down, I try to adopt a celebratory mindset in which I champion the little things that bring me joy. I do this by saying “The universe is spoiling me”.
There are so many things that we can take for granted in our day-to-day life. When I practice gratitude for a nice cup of coffee or a warm shower I shift perspective and my spirits are lifted.
Listening to music can help you feel understood or it can help you understand that the situation you are in is only temporary.
I believe that there is a song for every situation, and I’ve learned how to use a sad song to be cathartic, a happy song to lift my spirits, and an upbeat song to motivate me.
4. Fresh Air:
A study by The Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being outdoors for 20 minutes a day boosted vitality levels.
I grew up in the mountains and for me, nothing compares to the deep breath I take at the top of a mountain. You don’t need to stand on top of a mountain to benefit from fresh air. Taking a moment to step outside and practice box breathing is an excellent tool to recenter yourself.
5. Physical Activity:
Studies have proven that physical activity is associated with an antidepressant effect.
Starting a workout can feel impossible, especially when you feel mentally drained or overwhelmed. I find motivation by reminding myself that I’ve never regretted a workout after I am finished.
Making daily movement a habit has increased my overall happiness and resilience. I benefit from consistent positive endorphins that strengthen both my body and mind.
The five parts of my happiness formula are unshakable. The stresses of a bad day or the pressure of certain circumstances cannot take the gratitude I feel for everything that makes my life so wonderful.
Discovering your happiness formula will be a deeply personal and reflective process. Sometimes, it takes leaning into the discomfort of feeling bad, to understand what stopped you from feeling good. The next time you find yourself down, recognize what the key source of your perspective change was. Your happiness formula will likely be a combination of things that you need to stay consistent for you to feel like your best self.
Written by Jessica Orchin
Gasparotto Group helps organizations create cultures that develop highly effective leaders and build strong, resilient teams.