To be happy it is important to improve our emotional balance and move on.
In many articles in Psychology and Mind we have emphasized the importance of making life an exciting place to travel based on objectives and goals that make us stay awake and active. Not that we are fans of positive psychology, but we are very clear that one of the keys to happiness is precisely having the ability to continue improving day after day.
Improving as a person: it is possible… and necessary
Make no mistake: living is trying to improve yourself day after day. In fact, it is often said that happiness is nothing more than the prelude to it, that is, we are happy when we are close to achieving certain objectives and goals that we have set ourselves. Happiness is not, in itself, a goal that we should set ourselves, because -happiness- is rather a state of mind that accompanies us when we feel motivated doing things we like, spending time with people who make us feel good, And a long etcetera.
The problem is that many people have burdens and responsibilities that anchor us to a gray daily life that does not motivate us enough to want to improve as people. In addition, we live very influenced by everything that has been instilled in us, and on many occasions we act unconsciously to the detriment of other people, and we deceive ourselves to believe that, for some reason, we are acting correctly.
Forced to be happy?
In a very interesting article, the Valencian psychologist Álvaro Saval spoke about a kind of social imperative that has taken shape in the last decade: the obligation to be (or seem) happy people. Of course, society traces a notion of happiness very closely related to material success. This material success (having a good job, a good car, expensive trips…) can do us a disservice when trying to have a life that allows us to improve as human beings and address our most genuine interests.
Happiness should not be an obligation but a natural consequence of living in line with what we want to do and be, discover our true passions and dedicate ourselves body and soul to them. To be better people, and therefore more connected with our environment, it is necessary to practice and train.
5 keys to improve as a person (and be happier)
I propose five keys to develop the necessary skills to improve as a person, little by little and without pause. Do you dare to try it?
1. Be grateful and generous
There are a number of values that have an instant effect on the people around us. Perhaps the two most important are generosity and gratitude. When we are generous, kind and grateful to someone we meet on the street or with a close family member, we create a good harmony that not only affects how others value us, but also how we perceive ourselves. It makes us feel good to be nice to other people because, after all, we are empathic beings.
In addition, gratitude shows us the way to overcome certain traumas, anxiety and stress, it helps us eliminate negative thoughts from our mind and strengthens our self-concept.
A good way to develop gratitude and kindness is to do altruistic acts, that is, to do well without expecting to receive anything in return. This can be shocking in a cultural system based on the commercial and interested transaction, but there is much research in psychology that indicates that being supportive is linked to well-being, health and a longer life expectancy. It is not about becoming Maria Teresa of Calcutta overnight, but if we begin to give importance to altruistic acts, it is very likely that we will feel more fulfilled and have a greater emotional balance. To channel this advice, we can choose to do some volunteering … or, simply, to be kind and detached in our day to day, with the people we live with or pass by on the street.
2. Who has a friend has a treasure
Who has a friend, does not know what he has. In a society where we pay less and less attention to each other, having one or more trusted people with whom we can share unique moments is a great value for our happiness and for becoming better people. Of course, I am not referring to the “friends” that we may have on social networks such as Facebook or similar, but to real friends, the kind that are counted on the fingers of one hand and there are too many fingers.
Real friends emerge in the most unimaginable situations and contexts. It is necessary that we be aware of the importance of taking care of friendships to generate that dynamism that gives us the plans in common with a colleague, or those endless talks where we talk about anything.
One of the main causes of depression is loneliness. Living away from humane treatment immerses us in a gray and monotonous reality, and therefore takes us away from happiness and motivation. If you think you don’t need anyone to be happy, you are probably trying to deceive yourself, because that is not what science (and common sense) tells us. Maintaining friendships also requires effort and altruism on many occasions, but it is worth it.
3. Live life optimistically
Yes, a topic. But it is still true. People who are not optimistic are not better or worse than anyone, but unconsciously they are forging a boring, static reality and little given to joys. Why? There is nothing that incites more demotivation than not having a positive vision about the possibilities that, as a person, we have in life.
Being a pessimist is not just a way to self-boycott yourself, but a freeway to mediocrity. That is why we must say no to pessimism and recharge our batteries with a good dose of optimism, although at first we are not 100% convinced. If positive psychology has a certain recognition, it is precisely for having studied in depth the magnificent effects of being an optimistic and enthusiastic person.
Optimism must be a philosophy of life in order to move forward and infect those around us with good vibrations. We have to be able to dedicate our energies to everything we have control over, and if we see that something slips out of our hands, we can always turn to people to help us and give us a hand. If we are faced with a complicated or even fatal event, such as the death of a family member, it is normal for us to collapse but you always have to think that better times will come where that bad moment will only be a memory of a contingency of life.
4. Relativizes the importance of material goods
In another text published on this website, we echoed a study that indicates that money does not bring happiness. It may seem obvious, but there are people who still believe that if they accumulate more money and wealth, such as cars or houses, they will be happier. Well, everything indicates that they are wrong. Science has shown that, beyond a threshold in which we live in a comfortable way, earning more money no longer has any relation to the degree of happiness.
Entrusting our well-being and happiness to material things is a way to achieve the opposite effect, a permanent unhappiness, since we will continue to want to accumulate more and more and we will never be satisfied with what we have. And this is because, after all, the good moments in life are not those you share with a convertible car or a late-model smartphone, but with other people who make you feel special.
When we ask ourselves the question of what really motivates us in this life, almost all of us tend to respond by attaching very little importance to material aspects. We are not motivated by being rich or having the best watch or tech gadget. We are motivated to feel good about ourselves, to travel, to surround ourselves with sincere people who make us feel unique.
So why do we insist on pursuing the material? Human ambition has this flaw, which prioritizes tangible rewards over intangible everyday things. But we must constantly remind ourselves what it is we want to achieve in life and what it is that we really value. Only then will we be taking a step forward and being better people than we used to be.
5. Spend time on the things you like to do
We have already been giving brushstrokes throughout the post about the importance of dedicating time and effort to those activities and people that really make us feel good. It is quite difficult to be happy if we do not spend time on the things that motivate us, right?
Obviously, we are not all lucky enough to work on something that we are passionate about or to enjoy enough free hours to compensate for this need, which undoubtedly makes us better people. To do this, it is important to organize well and build bridges towards self-efficacy. That is, we must set ourselves small goals with which to improve little by little, and thus remain motivated and hooked on that hobby that we like so much.
Of course, sometimes it is difficult to become very good at what you practice. For example, I am a chess fan and I play a few games every day, but I know it would be very unrealistic to think that in 5 or 10 years I will be as good as Gari Kasparov. The small goals that we set ourselves (such as, for example, in my case, it could be to play a minimum of two games a day) should help us to move forward and remain activated, motivated by the process and not the result. In the end, playing chess, as well as any other hobby, is a joy in itself and it does not stop being so because I lose a few games against players better than me. We must put the enjoyment of learning before final questions.
In the workplace, most people are somewhat dissatisfied with the tasks they perform or the treatment they receive from their superiors. This is natural and not bad for us to complain from time to time, but there are things we can do to make the routine that much more enjoyable. Starting, for example, by providing a kind and jovial treatment with co-workers, to create a climate of closeness and cooperation.
In summary, to be happy and to be better people we must walk towards habits that motivate us and keep us activated. If we are happy with what we do, others notice it.