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Does Being Hardier make you Happier?

Does Being Hardier make you Happier?When I hear the word hardy, and happiness is not the first emotion that comes to mind. Strong, yes. Substantial, sure. But happy; not really.

How were these two words put together?

It was Dr. Tom Muha, a positive psychologist, who asked, what is potentially a disturbing, question, which is, “Are you prematurely dead?

Again you might be wondering what does that question have to do with hardiness and happiness?don’t worry it’ll come together in a minute.

I’d said “a potentially a disturbing question” because we all have that inner critic called our ego and it’s always quick to answer that question in the affirmative, leaving us with underlying feelings of uneasiness, even when we consciously override it.

However, Dr. Tom warns us not to be too quick with our final answer anyway. Why, because he tells what some of the happiest people in the world gave as an answer when asked what it is like to feel fully alive.

Here’s what they said, you can use it as a checklist:

  • My heart is warmed every day when I think of how deeply loved I am.
  • A contented smile spreads across my face several times a day as I let others know how much I love them.
  • Most people are happier after they’ve been around me.
  • I break out into a hardy laugh several times during the day.
  • When I wonder if I’m good enough to handle my problems, I have an inner voice that responds with a reassuring “Yes!”
  • I find myself deeply moved during the course of the day by the beauty of ordinary moments.
  • I feel I’m stronger because of the adversities I’ve overcome.
  • My love of life grows almost every day.
  • I routinely rejuvenate my body, mind and spirit every day.
  • People often seek me out for advice and support.
  • If I died today, I’d be satisfied with the full life I’ve led.

These are the attributes of people that, that according to Dr. Muha,  are on the highest end of the happiness scale. They are flourishing because they have discovered, and live, the understanding that happiness doesn’t derive from what you have or what you do, but centers around who you are with and how well you are connected to them. Flourishers are happy in relationships because they have an abundance of loving interactions. In fact, their love constantly grows stronger as they generate at least five positive connections for every one negative encounter.”

They have evolved this philosophy and life style because they had parents that taught them how to manage their emotions.

But what about the majority of us that weren’t exposed to that type of up bring? Well Dr. Tom concludes that there is hope for us all, no matter what stage of life we are in, because we all can learn to be happier.

So what does all this have to do with hardiness? Enter another positive psychologist, Suzanne Ouellette Kobasa, who as discovered that hardiness is a key element in experiencing happiness.

Her definition of hardiness, which helps make the connection between the two words, is “a set of beliefs about oneself, the world, and how they interact. It takes shape as a sense of personal commitment to what you are doing, a sense of control over your life, and a feeling of challenge.”

These elements are referred to as the “3 C’s” – committed, controlled and challenged.

These attributes allow us to, in the face of all life’s challenges – those that have arisen as the natural consequence of life and those self-inflicted wounds – to suspend our emotions when responding to a challenge.  And when practiced and mastered allow us to step into the “flow; that state in which {we} are zestfully engaged in working through the catastrophes of life by concentrating on the possibilities for success.”

Dr. Muha conclusion is when we learn to use the 3 C’s— commitment, control and challenge — to become a hardier person, “we will find happiness which is a counter balance to our challenges and opens the doors to greater wellbeing and abundance.”

Dr. Tom’s final advice a happiness practice; “Review the checklist again to identify those areas in which you can begin to flourish. Then grab your schedule book and create a to-do list of activities that will make you feel more fully alive.” Read more here.

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