The Happiness Habit We Practice The Least
We all have days where things don’t go our way. You get caught in traffic, spill coffee on yourself, your boss yells at you, and you get into fights with your friends.
We can’t always be happy, but we strive to be as happy as we can be. Our actions, thoughts, and behavior can all affect our level of well-being.
Have you ever wondered if there was something you weren’t doing that could make you happier?
Well a recent study has identified a few areas where we fall short. They also identified the habit we practice least, but may also give us the biggest boost in happiness.
The things we do every day can impact our thoughts, our moods, and how we feel. Happiness is no different.
In 2014, a group of psychologists from the University of Hertfordshire wanted to know which habits we practice that can affect our levels of happiness, and how often we practice them.
To start, they needed to identify habits that have shown to affect our well-being. So they borrowed a framework from a group of psychologists involved in a non-profit called Action For Happiness. The organization analyzed research and came away with 10 key happiness habits.
Having identified these key habits, they then set out to survey over 5,000 participants to see which ones people practiced the most.
So which habits did people practice the most?
The two happiness habits we practice the most were identifed as:
1) Being kind to others, and
2) Connecting socially
So we most often perform small acts of kindness, and bond socially in our daily lives. But the most interesting part of the survey came when psychologists looked at the habits we practiced the least.
The psychologists found the two least practiced happiness habits were exercise and self-acceptance.
The fact that many of us don’t exercise as much as we probably isn’t a shocker. However, our health plays a bigger role into our well-being more than people realize.
But self-acceptance – how much we are okay with who we are, as well as forgiving of our own mistakes – is surprising.
This is made even more significant by what else the researchers found. They saw that self-acceptance was also the best predictor of happiness. So the habit we practice the least, also happens to be the one that corresponds most strongly to being happy.
One of the psychologists involved in the study, Karen Pine, said:
This survey shows that practicing self-acceptance is one thing that could make the biggest difference to many people’s happiness.
Exercise is also known to lift mood so if people want a simple, daily way to fee happier they should get into the habit of being more physically active too.
How To Increase Your Self-Acceptance
Looking at what the psychologists define as self-acceptance could actually be broken down into two parts. It seems to be a mix of both self-acceptance and self compassion. Not only accepting who you are as a person, but also forgiving yourself when you make a mistake.
Accepting yourself starts with believing at a fundamental level that no one is perfect. Sometimes we idolize others, like business magnates or personal heroes. In reality, we all have things we can work on. Knowing that everyone has flaws helps to keep you from making unrealistic expectations of yourself or others.
The researchers who helped run the survey also give us some advice on how we might increase our levels of self-acceptance. So Just in case you’re someone who is a bit hard on themselves, here are 3 ways to help you cultivate a better acceptance of self:
1.Be Kinder and More Forgiving To Yourself
Many times we are much harder on ourselves than we would be to our family or friends. Reframe your mistakes and opportunities to learn, and setbacks as challenges to be overcome.
2. Ask For Feedback
Getting honest feedback is one of the best methods of personal growth. Ask close friends or colleagues what they believe your strengths are. This will help you realize what you can bring to the table and help boost your self-image.
But also ask them what they think you could work on. While this part is harder, remember that these are the areas where you can grow, learn, and become a better person. Focus on your strengths, but remember we all have things to work on.
3. Spend Time With Yourself
Being alone by can give you time to reflect. You’d be surprised how little time we allow ourselves to be with just our thoughts. Today’s hustle and bustle has us focusing on so many different things (job, family, projects, etc) we sometimes find it hard to just sit and think.
When we get busy in our lives, we can often forget to acknowledge our own feelings or thoughts. Identifying our emotions and deeper reasons for our actions is important for our mental health and well-being.
Time alone can increase our awareness, and can help bring peace to a busy mind.
If you’re looking for ways to boost happiness in your life, this study shows that exercise and self-acceptance might be two quick areas where you could make a significant change.
However if you’re already exercising, and you feel like you’re not too hard on yourself, their survey found that all ten areas are positively linked with happiness. If you’re curious about the other habits, the article is here.
And while being okay with who you are is great, don’t forget that a fulfilling life is also one of growth and improvement.