For centuries, people have tried to reach the concept of happiness, which has been popular since the beginning of civilization, by thinking, researching, traveling, reading, speaking, writing and believing. It contains an existential judgment on the basis of “happiness”, which has a different definition for everyone. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud happiness “Love and work, work and love. That’s what life is all about.” Psychoanalyst Jean-Pierre Winter defines happiness as “joy of life standing over the morbid, boredom, a victory over hatred, even the smallest.” Philosophers, on the other hand, have quite different points of view on this issue. While some views doubt happiness, others may view happiness as the joyful outpouring of emotion with their expressive views. Happiness, which is deceptive for the Epicureans, is for Spinoza a manifestation of perfection, an act of being, an emotion nourished by movement, desire, knowledge and freedom.
Happiness, which is based on positive emotions, is considered more as accepting oneself as a whole and enjoying the present moment. Happiness, which progresses in parallel with the joy of life, is now seen as developable and preferable. In other words, while we have negative feelings about the present and the future, while we have anxiety and stress, it is possible to turn it into optimistic feelings with a little effort. Instead of waiting for happiness as a miracle coming from outside, happiness can be achieved by correcting a structure that is very close to us, inside us. Of course, change doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It takes time to practice daily work and change established patterns.
Cognitive therapies and personal development methods offer many methods for us to look at life more optimistically. Thinker Michel Lacroix, who works on mental programming, emphasizes the importance of making more optimistic and creative decisions about our future by saying, “We cannot control the course of the world, but we control our own future.”
So how can you keep smiling and moving forward despite life’s ups and downs? Positive psychology fields offer exercises to look at life more positively, to appreciate the moment and to live it.
1. Start by loving yourself:
“Search for peace within yourself.”Buddha
“Compassion is the heart’s trembling response to another’s pain and wanting to alleviate that pain. Self-compassion is self-compassion. The concepts of meditation, yoga and mindfulness used by Eastern philosophers are becoming increasingly popular. It is considered the beginning of personality integrity to show empathy to ourselves before projecting it outward and to be able to define the pain in our inner world before dealing with the pain in the outside world. “In the beginning there was emotion. Then the verb came to replace the emotion,” writes author L. Ferdinand Celine. Recognizing our own feelings is the first door to get back to the heart of the matter. While defining these feelings, it is necessary to accept that negative feelings belong to us as well as positive ones. It is necessary to approach negative emotions with compassion and not to forget that this emotion is temporary. We must also direct the understanding we show to our relatives, friends, nature and animals to ourselves. We have to make peace with the personal aspects of ourselves that we sometimes ruthlessly criticize. We should appreciate the effort we have made by ourselves so far and encourage ourselves to hold our hand and look more positively. In this way, we can move our perceptions to a more positive point and adapt to the society happily.
2. Spend time alone with nature:
“And I’m going into the woods to lose my mind and find my soul.” John Muir
The effect of the environment we live in on human psychology is supported by the researches done in the last century. In this field of social psychology, the work of Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka shows that time spent in nature is associated with a positive mood and psychological well-being, meaningfulness, and vitality. Although the number of researches is increasing today, actually spending time in nature and integrating with it are included in most of the ancient teachings. “One who enjoys the sun, moon, stars, earth and sea is neither alone nor helpless.” This sentence of Epictetus, who rose from a Phrygian slave to the Roman Empire, shows that the most basic need of humanity is to integrate with nature. Nature renews self-belief and confidence. Therefore, people who spend time in nature can make more peaceful and productive decisions. Spending time in natural environments is recommended because it increases our sense of happiness. However, the decreasing natural areas with today’s rate of urbanization and the building barriers that prevent us from returning to our essence reduce the effect of reinforcing this positive feeling. For this reason, including plants and landscape images in our homes helps us to reduce the negative effects of concrete. Research has proven that looking at a landscape painting reveals emotions similar to the one we experience in nature.
3. Rewrite Your Personal History:
“Yesterday I was smart, I wanted to change the world. Today I am smart, I am changing myself.”Mevlana
What makes us who we are is what we learn from our experiences. Well, if our perception only learns as much as our current feelings, can we still say that the decisions you made in the past reflect you completely? When we evaluate our own past, what does it teach us to be stuck in the labels or meanings we impose on ourselves and to criticize our structure in times of pain? Sociologist David Le Breton explains the answer to these questions as follows: “We often see ourselves as victims of our past traumas and build ourselves on these events. We are constantly repeating the same thing and imprisoning it within ourselves. On the contrary, every sadness, big or small, is an opportunity to discover and redefine ourselves. We all have the power to forgive, to build a new world, to change the meaning of the world.” It is possible to build a new future with the power of creation within us. Whatever happened in the past, the decisions you made at that moment remained in that moment. Discovering that life is a continuous flow, that every new day is a new beginning, that we have a chance to act according to who we aim to be, supports us in the emergence of self-confidence. A more free person who is at peace with his past can enjoy the joy of living.
4. Enjoy the moment:
“The clock itself is space, its walking is time, its setting is human. This shows that time and space exist with people!” Time Regulation Institute, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar
It should not be forgotten that our coming into the world is a success story. Every individual who has come to life is a miracle in itself. Being a prisoner of everyday anxieties rather than enjoying a miracle reinforces negative emotions. Negative emotions bring not only psychological disorders but also physical illnesses. Adapting to popular trends, which are the benefits of the modern world, and trying to subject ourselves to a model distances us from ourselves. Especially recently, the increase in working hours, spending more time at home, staying away from our loved ones, economic concerns, health concerns and anxiety about the future dominate our lives. Passive hobbies reduce our joy of life while struggling with the difficulties of life. Instead of these, it is necessary to acquire quality, productive hobbies that make you happy, stay in touch with your loved ones, and connect with life. Thinking about the things that make you happy before getting out of bed in the morning helps you start the day more optimistically. We can say that time is a personal concept and whatever you fill it with, it will feed, stretch and develop. It is up to you to determine your time according to the activities that make you happy. By raising your awareness with meditation exercises, you can focus on staying in the moment for a real, deep, sustainable life. Remember that living is a miracle and you can save happy memories by staying in the moment.
“In fact, everybody wants to be happy, nobody wants to suffer, and happiness comes from our own habits, not from external factors. If your own mental attitudes are correct, you will feel happy even if you are in a hostile atmosphere.” Dalai Lama
In addition to all these, I would like to state that happiness is a skill that can be developed and that we can have it with the exercises we do every day. The personality structures we are are our comfort zones. No matter how many negative emotions we have in the comfort zone, it is often very difficult to leave the comfort zone. But remember that once you start, happiness will accompany you, your joy of living will rise again, and life is a chance every day. Happiness is in your hands, in your smallest smiles…