Aristotle once said happiness is the 'desire behind all other desires'. To feel happy is to feel fulfilled, content, at peace and utterly satisfied. And as it turns out, the majority, about 77 percent of us, are either extremely or somewhat happy with our lives in general.
Still, many of us strive to reach even a fair level of satisfaction in our lives, yet end up falling short and looking for more. For those still struggling to find contentment, what is the key to getting there?
Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not making money, it’s not going shopping, it’s not even enjoying a good meal. What it is is surrounding yourself with experiences that create what the relatively new field of positive psychology has coined as 'flow'.
Finding 'Flow' in Your Life, and Why You Need it to Feel Happy
'Flow' is the elated feeling you experience when you’ve just had a completely gratifying experience. According to the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, “Engaging in an experience that produces ‘flow’ is so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, rather than for what they will get out of it. The activity is its own reward.”
This may sound rather abstract, but it’s not. There are very specific ways to reach the feeling of 'flow', and they include:
• Having a purpose: Engaging in a challenging activity that your skills are suited for
• Using your skills to pursue a clear goal
• Getting immediate feedback on progress toward the goal
• Maintaining clear markers of achievement toward your goal
In other words, engaging yourself in activities that are challenging, that give you purpose, and that you get positive feedback from (meaning you are successful at them) is key to feeling fulfilled.
When you think about this scenario, you realize that it can be applied to just about anything in your life. Career is the obvious one, but it also expands to your personal relationships, fitness level, self-fulfillment, organization, even planning a vacation or planting a garden.
In such an activity, concentration is fully engaged in the moment, self-awareness disappears, and sense of time is distorted, according to the Positive Psychology Center.
Finding Your Focus
To find the activities that will give you 'flow', or, perhaps to make it so that every activity you engage yourself in makes you feel satisfied, it is necessary to first release negative, self-sabotaging emotions. These feelings, such as fear, anger, guilt, anxiety or sadness, do nothing but hold us back, and you can only feel truly free to surround yourself with love, happiness, and peace when you let them go.
Letting go of negativity is much easier than it sounds but scientifically proven to help you release negative thoughts and behaviors and, in their place, create a solid, positive mental attitude.
Studies have also found that the following acts also contribute to feelings of satisfaction, elation and happiness.
• Express gratitude often
• Do good deeds for others
• Keep an optimistic attitude
• Use your strengths toward something of importance (such as tutoring, cleaning up the environment or volunteering at a charity)
Bar advice.To keep yourself feeling good and satisfeied with life at this moment. Help someone else. You'll see that what you give returns to you ten fold. Don't do it in anticipation of rewards but for bringing joy to others and in turn you will receive as well.