Happiness is something we all want. We don’t feel it often or strongly enough and when we do, it seems to slip through our fingers far too easily. In pursuit of happiness we may read many books and articles on practices that increase happiness, yet we don’t feel much closer to creating the happiness we desire in our lives.
Happiness is not something we find, reach or become – we learn happiness skills, just as we would learn any other skill – according to UC Berkeley researchers. Just as we use a recipe to bake a cake, we need a plan that maps out a strategy for reaching our happiness goals.
Perhaps we are really good at some happiness skills and not so good at others. If I am already good at gratitude but not so good at empathy – I should spend time on practicing empathy. It has been shown that turning your happiness weaknesses into strengths means you will have more skills leading to greater happiness.
Research conducted on learning shows that a personalized learning approach can help you learn skills that you’re weak at, skills you’re excited about and skills that build on each other – result in faster, more effective learning because they focus on your unique needs, interests and abilities.
You can figure out your happiness strengths and weaknesses by looking into how well you demonstrate:
- The ability to accept yourself and your emotions non-judgmentally.
- The ability to see yourself as a good, worthwhile human being.
- The ability to understand what you value, how you feel and who you are.
- The ability to change your thoughts in ways that help you experience longer-lasting, more intense, more frequent positive emotions.
- The ability to perceive the actions of others as inclusive rather than rejecting.
- The ability to see the world from another person’s perspective (empathy).
- The ability to be thankful for the experiences and people you have in your life (gratitude).
- The ability to stop ruminating about negative interpersonal situations (letting go).
Positive behaviors involving the self:
- Planning: The ability to take actions that progress you towards your goals.
- The belief that your strengths can be developed through hard work and dedication (growth mindset).
- The ability to resist engaging in unhealthy behaviors (drugs, alcohol, shopping, or overeating) as a means to increase happiness (self-care).
- The ability to make time for and consistently schedule, activities that you enjoy.
Positive behaviors involving others:
- Kindness: The ability to be friendly, generous, and considerate toward others.
- Assertiveness: The ability to stand up for yourself, speak up, and communicate your needs.
Once you know your happiness strengths and weaknesses, choose just one skill that you believe is a weakness. It’s best to try to develop one skill at a time. Plan to practice building these skills regularly and consistently and watch your happiness level increase.
“Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” – Unknown