Is more micro-happiness what we all need right now?

As tempting because it was to hope the pandemic would all of the sudden disappear – taking all of the grief and angst of the previous two years with it – that’s not how life works, is it?

Now struggle is raging in Ukraine, we face new financial fears, and the emotional baggage of Covid isn’t one thing we are able to all simply snap out of.

Feeling the load of those darkish clouds? Then it may very well be time to reconnect with ‘the little things’. Moments of micro-happiness, small pockets of pleasure – or simply good stuff that feels good, if fluffy ‘positivity’ jargon isn’t your bag.

With such large issues happening, it’d sound trite to speak about small joys – however they’ll make a distinction, says Dr Andrea Giraldez-Hayes, scientific director of the Wellbeing and Psychological Services Centre at University of East London’s School of Psychology.

Creating blissful moments

Right now, “it’s very easy to start seeing the dark side of everything and feel worried and anxious”, Giraldez-Hayes acknowledges, which may make it “difficult to connect with our wellbeing”. However, many constructive psychology consultants have examined the constructing blocks of happiness, or the issues that feed our feelgood reserves – and there’s lots of emphasis on micro moments.

“The idea is, you can create those moments, and even a tiny thing can have an impact on your mindset and how you feel,” says Giraldez-Hayes. “It’s something you need to practise consciously. You need to look for these opportunities – it’s not something that is just going to happen.”

What these micro-moments are is likely to be very particular person – like having fun with your morning espresso outdoor, a stroll within the park earlier than work, sitting by the canal to learn your e book – however Giraldez-Hayes says there are some core issues that are typically common. These embody kindness, serving to others, and a way of reference to others.

Male friends eating together in the pub
Connection is vital (Alamy/PA)

“That doesn’t just mean going out for dinner with a friend,” says Giraldez-Hayes. “It could be even if you go for your coffee in the morning and exchange some kind words with the person that prepares the coffee, or you have a conversation with someone randomly. That contact with other humans helps a lot.”

The day by day facet issues although. “It’s like going to the gym – you can’t do it as a one off and then think [the effects] will last forever,” Giraldez-Hayes causes. Bringing a way of intentionality to it is usually necessary.

Keeping it actual 

Everything has a tipping level although. Even being constructive isn’t at all times, properly, all that constructive. For instance, so-called ‘toxic positivity’ – forcing ourselves to place a constructive spin on every part, earlier than we’ve had an opportunity to register not to mention course of what’s actually happening – just isn’t useful for anybody.

Professor Bruce Hood, who leads University of Bristol’s ‘Science of Happiness’ course, cautions towards ‘happiness hacks’ changing into too prescriptive. Yes, there’s proof that this strategy to micro-happiness will be useful – Hood actually isn’t right here to inform anybody to not hassle – however he does assume it’s useful to recollect there’s extra to the image.

“I’m usually asked, ‘What are your top five tips?’, and I always say I’m not going to give them,” says Hood (he used to, however no extra). “Because it suggests that there’s some sort of inadequacy. And it’s like – all we need to do is this, and then we’ll be fine – but it would be disingenuous to say that. It’s not to say [those things] are pointless. They do have meaning, but they have to be seen in the context of just trying to lead a more purposeful, engaged life.”

“We have to have some balance,” Hoods provides. “Changes we can make are beneficial, but we mustn’t think that we’re suddenly going to be deliriously happy ever after, and I think that’s an important message to remind people.” He suggests specializing in the “process” (doing the issues) moderately than over-emphasising an anticipated consequence (if I do that, I needs to be blissful).

Getting off auto-pilot

This brings up one other query: what does being blissful imply? “There isn’t a single definition of happiness. It means different things to different people and covers a variety of emotional states, as well as cognitive states, like being content with your life,” says Hood. “When you drill down into it, it means a sense of engagement, achievement, progression, all these sorts of words – and they don’t necessarily mean that you’re in an elevated positive state of mind. It’s more nuanced than that. And you have to have negative in life in order to really appreciate the positive,” says Hood. “That’s the basic function of how the brain works.”

However you select to interrupt it down although, that sense of being engaged and intentional appears key. And it’s necessary to consider what this implies to you – beware the lure of evaluating your blissful to another person’s, “because that’s invariably where we’re going to feel inadequate,” says Hood.

“One thing I would say, is we do tend to live our lives on autopilot. We have certain goals and expectations, we go about our daily lives, we don’t necessarily stop and question why we’re doing what we’re doing. And a lot of the time, we’re not really focusing on what we’re doing,” Hood notes.

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