How To Be Happy In This Uncertain World
Global uncertainty reached unprecedented levels at the beginning of COVID-19 and remains elevated, according to the International Monetary Fund. The World Uncertainty Index—a quarterly measure of global economic and policy uncertainty covering 143 countries—shows that uncertainty remains about 50 per cent above its historical average during the 1996–2010 period. Numerous events are contributing to people feeling uncertain.
In addition to the pandemic and new variants, politics, the economy, job and company changes, finances, and health, are all contributing to high levels of uncertainty.
You are being bombarded with messaging and information through multiple media channels. Smartphones have infiltrated every part of our lives. The constant alerts and 24/7 negative news cycle are taking a toll on people’s emotional and psychological well-being. Just when it seems that events and life are stabilizing, a new event occurs. All external events are part of people’s life circumstances.
Humans crave security.
They want to feel safe and have a sense of control over their lives and well-being. Fear and uncertainty can leave people feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
People’s happiness comes from a combination of genetic history, life circumstances, and choices.
People can choose to be happy in this uncertain world.
People can choose daily actions that will support this goal.
Just like taking care of one’s physical health, taking care of happiness is a choice. It takes effort and work. With intention, people can be very happy, even with all the uncertainty happening around them.
Here are seven happy strategies:
1. Reframe Stress To Challenging
Viewing stress as a helpful part of life, rather than harmful, is associated with better health, emotional well-being, and productivity at work, according to the research conducted by Stanford’s Alia Crum.
How people think about stress matters because it changes how people respond in stressful situations.
Viewing stress more positively encourages people to cope in ways that help them thrive, whether it’s tackling the source of stress, seeking social support, or finding meaning in it. People can use the word, “stretched”, instead of “stressed” as well.
2. Utilize Stress Recovery Tools
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar said, “Stress is not the enemy; the enemy is lack of recovery”.
Getting adequate sleep nightly, eating healthy nutrition, meditation, regular movement, spending time in nature, stretching, reading, humor, and listening to music, are all tools to build up resilience.
When people take care of their physical and psychological well-being, they are better equipped to deal with the uncertainties of modern life.
People can notice when they are starting to feel stressed and then need to know when to take breaks. Productivity takes a nosedive after 50-hours a week, so it is beneficial to recharge on the weekends.
3. Focus On The Present
Uncertainty is often centered on worries about the future and all the bad things people anticipate happening. Instead of trying to predict what might happen, switch attention to what’s happening right now. Formal and informal mindfulness are extremely useful in staying present.
There are a variety of apps to utilize, or people can connect to their body and physical surroundings using their 5 senses.
Choose when you want to read about the news each day and do not let it infiltrate every hour that you are awake.
Stay informed and then focus on your present life.
4. Practice Acceptance
There will always be events out of people’s control.
Change is the constant.
Uncertainty is here to stay.
Accept that challenges are a part of the human experience.
Expect uncertainty and do not be surprised when events occur.
In psychology, acceptance means “taking a stance of non-judgmental awareness and actively embracing the experience of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations as they occur” (Hayes et al., 2004). People can notice resistance as it occurs and actively practice being accepting.
5. Increase Human Connection
The number one predictor for human happiness is human connection.
This means spending time with people that you care about and who care about you.
People can analyze the amount of time that they are spending with friends and family during on weekdays and weekends. The next step is to increase this time and plan events that are enjoyable and meaningful.
This connected time can happen in person and virtually.
Social media is not equal to having meaningful conversations with other human beings.
6. Understand Impermanence
We want things to stay exactly as they are. Because permanence feels like security.
Buddhism views impermanence as one of their doctrines. ‘Everything changes and nothing lasts forever.’ Everything from our emotions to our thoughts and feelings, to our views, to our families, work, communities, and countries.
When we know that nothing lasts, our psychological immune system is stronger. Instead of wishing and wanting things to remain the same, we expect them to change. We can remove frustration and replace it with curiosity.
7. Increase Giving and Generosity
The Dalai Lama famously said, “The majority of human suffering comes from thinking too much about ourselves”.
There are many opportunities to support other people, animals, and the planet. People can choose one or more ways to give or donate their time or money.
Personal happiness increases when we are supporting and helping others. There is a boomerang effect where, their happiness increases due to the support, and the giver’s happiness increases by doing good.
The world needs more kindness and generosity now than ever before.
By accepting that there are events and circumstances outside of your control, you can increase your emotional and psychological well-being. You can strengthen your resilience and grow stronger during uncertain times. The first step is the set a goal and intention that you want to choose happiness and make proven, research-based choices that will increase your happiness. Uncertainty in your professional and personal life will continue. It is up to you to thrive, succeed, and have the ability to ride each storm.
Tia Graham is Founder & Certified Chief Happiness Officer, Arrive At Happy. She is the author of Be a Happy Leader: Stop Feeling Overwhelmed, Thrive Personally, and Achieve Killer Business Results. Find out more about Tia at www.arriveathappy.com
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