5 Stages of Happiness

Happiness takes various shapes and forms. Let’s be theoretical for a moment and look at the five stages of happiness or the Big 5:

·         Big happiness (a person is fundamentally happy and while the mood may shift, he/she is usually energized, enjoys the “present moment”, has a purpose in life and knows what it is, and has a positive outlook on his/her life and future)

·         Pleasant moments (a person is good at enjoying the “present moment”, finds happiness in little things and is generally satisfied with his/her life; good physical and mental/psychological state)

·         Things that energize us (the focus of this stage resembles a good balance between physical and mental/psychological state; both can trigger higher energy levels – whether it is going to gym or talking to friends)

·         Things that calm us down/make us feel better (this stage is the second last for a reason – this is the stage when a person has been worried, anxious or depressed for quite some time. An example of things that calm us down can be reading Oprah magazine, meditating or developing goals for this year)

·         Things that just make life bearable (this is the stage where a person kind of loses hope for a better life and everything seems annoying or depressing)

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In order to achieve big happiness, we need to identify where each of us stands today (i.e. current situation), sometimes it means starting from the bottom of this list and building our way up, which is fine.

Every day is different. Every day I feel different, I get a different vibe and my perspective on life shifts daily.

Yesterday I woke up feeling really depressed about my life. Waking up on a Wednesday, in the middle of the work week, on a cold February day in Canada is enough to feel this way. Many of us know this chilly feeling of never-ending winter and cold. I quickly decided that today I will focus on just dragging myself to work and that’s where my effort and energy will go. Focus, attitude and decision to perceive life in a certain way definitely goes a long way – as I decided that my life sucks, it truly felt this way. In 5 minutes I wrote an essay titled “Why my life sucks” where I was sure to capture EVERY.SINGLE.THING that bothers me or that could potentially drag my mood down. Surprisingly, writing this essay full of self-pity didn’t make me feel any better. In fact, after reading it I realized that I focused too much on things that could be easily fixed (e.g. allergy that annoyed me and affected my mood and activities). The problem with the lens I used to perceive my life is that after making a decision that my life sucks, I could no longer go back and try to fix things or actually enjoy my life. It is all about perspective. Even after realizing that many of my problems could be easily fixed, I still had this bitter aftertaste after reading my own essay.

So I decided to continue feeling sorry for myself and focus on stage 5 – Making life bearable.  My top 6 list of things that make my life bearable included: getting a hug/kind words from my husband, getting a cup of mochaccino with whip cream (because if I am not in the mood to live, then I might as well be fat), a glass of white wine, playing candy crush, listening to some morose music and reading something funny off the internet.

This is precisely what I did, one thing after another throughout the day. While it made me feel that my life is more bearable, it also annoyed the hell out of me because I can pity myself for some time but not too much.

As I learned at an Emotional Intelligence course, the first step to understanding others is understanding how I feel and being able to identify my own emotional state and what causes it as it affects how I respond to and treat others. Taking the time to realize how I feel and then reflecting as to what makes me feel that my life sucks in my “essay” showed me that I am letting my emotions and frustrations take control over my mood, and that the things that bring my mood down are so easily fixable that they don’t even sound legitimate enough to affect anyone’s mood. And so I stopped sulking and started doing things. And it felt better the next day.
If you feel that you are tired of life and everything annoys you, do the following:

·         Get a small/quick fix that will give you some energy – it can be anything from your favourite mood-boosting drink (e.g. tea, coffee, fancy espresso drink, booster juice or smoothie, I don’t recommend alcohol at this point) to a small snack like almonds or chocolate.

·         Aromatherapy Surround yourself with things that have the scents that boost YOUR mood – anything from your favourite perfume, soap, candle, tea, or, if you want to be scientific, there are scented oils that, when applying, will boost your mood.

Here are some good ones:

Body Shop

Amazon

 

·         Turn up the music! Turn on music that you like and that makes you feel comfortable. On my ipod I have lots of 90s pop hits and even some classic waltz by Strauss that always boosts my mood.

·         Reflect. It is very important to sit down and write how you feel and what bothers you about today. Bonus points if you use old-fashioned pen and paper way. Extra Bonus points if you have a notebook where you record your goals, plans, motivational quotes, thoughts, ideas and to-do lists (Great Gatsby had one and I have a few. The least you can do for yourself is to invest in one nice notebook and learn to motivate yourself by yourself. Especially useful when you get to stage 3.

·         Now read what you just wrote, question it and come up with solutions/fixes. Can something be done to address/prevent or solve this? In my case, not getting enough sleep was the primary thing that affected my whole day, my mood and my outlook on life and made me constantly tired. This is the solutions I came up with: I promised to myself that I will go to bed earlier, I started opening a window to let fresh air into the bedroom to make it comfortable to sleep, placed lavender sachet under a pillow, used a special pillow spray from Body Shop to make it even more relaxing to sleep, read some more about improving relaxation (e.g. switch from phone and TV to books and calming bath, no food or gym or alcohol 3 hours or less before going to bed).

·         Decide to change your perspective. Challenge yourself to find good things and focus on only good things for some time. You need to build capacity to deal with problems and the first thing to do this is by deciding to take control of your life. In my case, I started following motivational groups on Instagram, signed up for a free university course on Happiness on Coursera, attended a webinar on how to improve my blog, talked about my needs to my husband, and wrote down “perfect life case scenario” for every area of my life so that I have some goals for this year.

And this is what I have for you today. Believe in Yourself. Rise and Lead.

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