Happiness as a state of mind


By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer

Spending time with close friends and surrounding yourself with those you love can result in feelings of happiness.

Spending time with close friends and surrounding yourself with those you love can result in feelings of happiness.

REGION – Abraham Lincoln once said, “We’re just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.” If that is true, then it truly gives us the power to choose. A person’s attitude can help to make a very big difference. 

There are many exercises used to help people be more positive, which results in their happiness. To start, focusing on what you have and being grateful is important. Journaling can play a role in this type of exercise and can also be beneficial. It can lead to feeling energized, which gets your endorphins flowing, creating feelings of happiness. 

Our thinking certainly affects how we feel. Some people start every morning with a positive thought. This conscious task can bring positivity and joy. Certain activities like social interaction and being with family and friends can increase our happiness. 


Physical benefits

There are so many physical traits that occur when you are happy that it has been said that happiness can actually increase your lifespan. Blood pressure lowers, your immune system is stronger, you have a quicker recovery from illness, there is a lower risk of heart disease, your pain resilience improves, inflammation decreases, you are better able to combat stress, you have a quicker recovery time from illness, your affinity for exercise increases, resulting in a healthier diet, which, in turn, improves digestion and lowers your risk for diabetes and stroke. 

“When working with clients, I try to help them address and come to terms with past wounds, have gratitude and remember to practice this daily. I also remind them to take time to be present with loved ones, and not on their phone,” said Kellsey Forest, LICW, TCTSY-F, RYT, a psychotherapist in Westford. 


Accept disappointments and stay present

It doesn’t seem possible for a person to be genuinely happy all the time. It’s natural to face disappointments. Contentment and joy are both characteristics of happiness. Happy people tend to focus on the positive and appreciate all the good that they are surrounded by. They tend to be respectful, warm and pleasant to be around. 

Life is complex with ups and downs and many challenges along the way. Sadness and pain are normal experiences that should be embraced, just like happiness. Some people feel that if they go down their checklist of “must accomplish” things then they will achieve true happiness. It doesn’t always work out this way and many still feel unfulfilled as they climbed that ladder of success and even reached financial stability. What they failed to do was acknowledge what was missing, which was true connections with people and things that made them truly happy.

“Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose,” said Mayumi Kimura, LICSW, of Mind Body Dimensions Psychotherapy in Andover. “It’s not clearing your mind. It’s being mind-full as opposed to mind-less. Mindfulness practice can help use the power of time travel by giving us the skills to decide when, where and how long we stay in the past and future by centering us in the present,” she added. “Many of my clients have never had a structured mindfulness practice so we start small.”


Perspective is everything

In a very moving TEDx Talk in 2014, Sam Berns, a junior at Foxborough High School shared his philosophy for a happy life. Afflicted by progeria, a disease that causes individuals to age rapidly, Sam, who weighed only about 50 pounds, was desperate to join his marching band and perform at the football halftime show. He was faced with many obstacles but insisted on focusing on what he was able to do and ultimately achieved his goal. He always had a positive outlook and chose to surround himself with people that he wanted to be around. Although he has since passed, he acknowledged that he had a very happy life. 

“My close friends and family have always provided a positive influence,” said Berns. “When I make music, which I love, the music supersedes the progeria. I always concentrate on moving forward. For me, staying in a ‘forward thinking’ state of mind is helpful.”

Walt Disney said, “Happiness is a state of mind. It’s just according to the way you look at things.”



Humor offers benefits to feeling better and improving outlook (fiftyplusadvocate.com)