In 1998, Pamela Gail Johnson founded the Secret Society of Happy People. She wanted a safe place for people to share happy news. Two years later, the society made August “Happiness Happens Month.” Why is it so hard to share happiness? There are a lot of theories about that, but one is that many people believe happiness must be earned.
What Is Happiness?
Psychology Today suggests that “research in the field of positive psychology and happiness often define a happy person as someone who experiences frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest and pride, and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety and anger.” Happy people experience a full spectrum of emotions but don’t let the negative emotions pull them down.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others."
Happiness doesn’t really just happen. You have to make to a choice to find what makes you happy. You can be happy when you’re doing something that you have passion for or when you’re building connections with the people you love.
Ideas to Share Happiness in August
The Secret Society of Happy People sponsors 31 challenges for the 31 days of August. Here are few of their ideas from the past:
- Share a pet picture (even if you have to borrow one)
- Watch a funny movie that makes you laugh
- Eat your favorite comfort food
- Smile at four (or more) strangers
- Wear your favorite shoes
- Work a puzzle, jigsaw, crossword or sudoku
- Text your BFFs
- Call someone you’ve missed
- Watch a sunset or sunrise
- Hold the door open for someone
- Relax in the pool or bath
- Get out the good china
Get the idea? Just do something that makes you (and someone else) feel good. It might be that feeling you get when the kitchen is clean or your bed is made. Maybe it’s how you feel when you’re holding your four-legged furball.
Most happiness experts recommend living in the moment to be fully happy. If you can’t let go of the past, you only think about the mistakes you’ve made. If you’re living in the future, it can be easy to become fearful.
Another key element of happiness is to be grateful and appreciative. It’s difficult to be unhappy, angry and jealous when you express thankfulness for what you do have.
Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
What About Negative Emotions?
Face it, you can’t avoid negative emotions, but you can process them differently. Think of negative feelings as data, not directives. When a person gets angry, it’s often a sign that boundaries have been crossed. Maybe an injustice has occurred. People feel sad when they’re grieving a loss.
Your emotions are sending you a message. You can use your anger to motivate yourself to make changes. Learn why you get angry. Resolve the situation instead of letting your anger get to you. When you’re grieving, instead of pushing that emotion down and burying it, talk about what you’ve lost. Do something to commemorate the relationship.
If you’re struggling with finding happiness, take time in August to define happiness for yourself. Then find ways to embrace each day to achieve happiness. It gets easier to appreciate the small things in your day as you practice being grateful. Take the happiness challenge this year.