Happiness is universally desired. But do you know how to increase your happiness? In his book, Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert explains that it’s not about big goals or events. The better house, the extra-long vacation, don’t really make us much happier.
Instead, happiness is closer at hand. It evolves from our day-to-day experience. Little achievements, a shift in attitude, a pleasant activity, all add up to more cheer. The sum total of little victories results in a better overall feeling about life.
The Caregiving Happiness Project is currently exploring how family caregivers can create happiness despite ongoing stress.
You can participate in this study! The project supplies a monthly theme and an online support community. Themes include simple ideas such as “space,” “quiet,” and “learn.” For example, here’s how two participants interpreted November’s theme of “let go”:
One woman challenged her belief that “uncomfortable behavior in dementia is never accepted.” When company visited, she reminded herself to “let go.” She relaxed about her mother’s behavior. And she found that “it was okay; her challenges were accepted.”
Another participant decided to “let go” of old family photos. As she took the albums apart, she found pleasure in sending packets of pictures to other relatives to enjoy.
The goal is to explore simple strategies and find the ones that work for you. Participants use surveys that measure their happiness when they start the project, and again at its finish. To assess the impact of happiness on health, they are also checking their blood pressure and weight.
Empower yourself to get more joy from your life. Don’t wait for happiness to arrive “once things settle down.” Check out the Caregiving Happiness Project. Or create your own simple strategies to make your day better, starting this moment.