Are you trying TOO hard to be 'happy'?

Publish Date
Friday, 26 May 2017, 12:45PM
Photo / Getty Images

Photo / Getty Images

We have all developed a mindset whereby happiness is associated with an end goal: perfection.

But what we are failing to realise is that the dream of perfect health, a perfect work life and a perfect social life is an unachievable goal, according to the Daily Mail

Obsessing over it is not only unhealthy but also means we miss out on many of life's simple pleasures.

"Focusing too much on this 'thing' known as happiness can actually lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration or even depression," Dr Meg Arroll, a leading psychologist, says.

"Being 'happy' has become yet another thing that we must 'do'. The problem is happiness isn't something we can just 'do', it is the by-product of other positive acts."

Long before the digital age, British philosopher John Stuart Mills said that people who are supposedly "happy" are people that focus on the happiness of others, or on the improvement of mankind, or even on some kind of artistic pursuit.

"We could all learn a thing or two from him," Dr Arroll insists. "In other words, happy people don't solely focus on themselves."

So what's the best way to get to that point? Here, Dr Arroll explains her top tips to appreciate what you've got ... 

1. Sometimes simple is best

Find time to indulge in your favourite everyday activities. 

It really is the simple things in life that make us feel happy – spending time with loved ones, enjoying a long walk outdoors, laughing and even caring for a pet.

2. Top up your vitamin intake

A deficiency in vitamin D is linked with feeling blue and around half the population of the UK don't get enough of it. 

In fact, 16 percent of us are severely deficient in winter and spring time. In older adults, severe deficiency is even more common with 58 percent of older people having very low levels of vitamin D.

3. Take a break from your phone

The media can encourage us to compare ourselves with others. 

When we compare ourselves to friends and family, we know that they have imperfections and make mistakes. 

But in media, it may seem like others are perfect and this can make us feel inadequate, flawed and frankly just a bit rubbish. 

This is why it's a good idea to take a break from looking outwards and use mindfulness to focus back in on ourselves.

4. Live in the moment

There really is something to say for the phrase "living in the moment". 

Using mindfulness to "live in the moment" has been found to have a number of health benefits.

It can help with low mood, anxiety and can allow people to deal more effectively with stressful situations.

It can also benefit physical health problems and give is the mental space to develop a sense of acceptance.

5. Put all of this into practice by thinking short term

Practising mindfulness and exercising your ability to make the most of the present will leave you feeling appreciative of what you have. 

Aspirations are a wonderful thing, but not if endlessly chasing "more", as this often leads to a profound sense of emptiness. 

We should all focus more on achievable, short-term goals that benefit not only ourselves but others, and also appreciate what we already have.

Set goals, aim high and dream big by all means. Just don't lose track of too much time in the process.

This article was first published on Daily Mail and is republished here with permission.