Two and a half years ago I arrived in Abu Dhabi, and since then I have been helping a lot of people evaluating their lives and changing some of their priorities to lead a more meaningful and rewarding life. I signed up with UC, Berkeley to learn more about why and how to create more happiness in life and today I work as happiness expert and blogger for Enritsch.com, the UAE’s on-line and wellness platform. I also do my free Happiness Pep-talks in Abu Dhabi driven by my vision to create a planet where people lead more flourishing lives. The science on happiness is here already, it just needs to be applied to people’s lives, corporates, and communities.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND HAPPINESS
Our subjective state of mind and our experience of positive emotions is partly heritable – up to 50% is determined by our genes – so if you ask the question “why are some people happier than others?”, about 50 percent of the answer lies in genetics. About 10 percent lies in our life circumstances (some of us are married, some of us are not, some of us have kids, some of us have not, some of us are more or less attractive, more or less healthy etc.) which leaves us with 40 percent that we – according to happiness science – can influence by intentional activity.
Happiness scientists have been studying very happy people to reveal the secrets behind leading happy lives, and here is some of their findings: Happy people are really good at relationships. Happy people are more grateful, philanthropic and helpful, and they tend to savour pleasures in their lives. Happy people are committed to personal significant life goals, whether it’s raising moral children, or building a house, or advancing in their career.
Many companies and people are struggling at the moment due to downsizing, not only in Abu Dhabi but in the whole UAE, but even though they face extreme difficulties, they seem to hold on to the old way of doing business: the Industrial business paradigm with a constant focus on economic growth. Sadly this paradigm often fails to incorporate real meaning and pleasure in work, and as a result leave people unengaged and stressed in their job.
THE LEVELS OF HAPPINESS
I’m delighted to share four happiness practices that will increase feelings of happiness and well-being.
Three Good Things
Journal and write down things that went well for you during the day, and make a mental investigation as to why they went well. It can be small things or relatively more important things, everything counts. Refocusing your mind on life’s good events and the positive feelings that came with them can make a real difference in how you feel.
Loving Kindness Meditation
This meditation practice is a way of developing and boosting compassion towards others and yourself. Search for “loving kindness meditation” guidance on the internet, get comfortable, relax and gently follow the instructions.
Feeling gratitude not only increases your level of positive emotions, it also strengthens your relationships.
Think about someone who did something you are extremely grateful for, but who you never thanked. Now write the person a letter expressing your deep gratitude and telling how they affected your life and why you’re so grateful. Plan to visit the person to deliver the letter.
AWE is a positive feeling and can be defined as the feeling of being in presence of something vast and greater than the self. We all know this almost divine feeling of experiencing something so beautiful, great or dislike that the only thing we can say is “awe”. Deliberately trying to plan for AWE experiences can increase feelings of happiness. When you are doing your AWE walk, make sure your cell phone is switched off, or even better, leave it at home. Here are some ideas for your AWE experience:
1. Plan for a hike in the mountains
2. Go to see the never-ending sand dunes in the dessert
3. Walk outside in the night and look up at the stars.
4.Watch the sunset from a beach
5. Visit a historic monument