Our souls are yearning for us to slow down.
“More and more of us are looking for peace and calm in our crazy-busy lives,” notes Barbara Fordyce, clinical psychologist and operator of Barbara Fordyce & Associates Comprehensive Psychological Services.
Fordyce referred to a study by the American Psychological Association that showed 75 percent of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the month prior to the study, and that nearly half reported their stress had increased in the previous year. Numerous reports, she said, estimate that over 85 percent of primary care physician visits are due to stress-related causes.
Such statistics have changed thinking in psychology circles, creating “positive psychology,” or, the study of happiness.
“Psychology traditionally has focused on mental illness or other psychological problems and how to treat them,” Fordyce explained. “Positive psychology, by contrast, is a relatively new field that examines how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled.
Fordyce referred to the sustainable happiness model, which she said is “a theoretical framework that explains how to increase and maintain happiness.”
“According to this model, three factors contribute to an individual’s chronic happiness level: (a) the set point (hereditary personality traits), 50 percent; (b) life circumstances, 10 percent; and (c) intentional activities or effortful acts that are naturally variable and episodic, 40 percent,” she said. “Such activities, which include committing acts of kindness, expressing gratitude or optimism and savoring joyful life events, represent the most promising route to sustaining enhanced happiness. We have the ability to enhance happiness and positivity in our lives.”
Happiness interventions involving intentional activities “can be effective in increasing and sustaining happiness,” said Fordyce, who noted “14 fundamentals” of happiness include such mindful activities as “socializing, practicing optimism, being present-oriented, reducing negativity and not worrying.”
Fordyce called it critical that “we all find ways for living well in stressful times.”
“That requires learning and applying strategies that encourage a sense of balance in our lives,” she said, “and making health, wellness and happiness our priorities.
TIPS FOR BALANCING YOUR LIFE
Fordyce provided the following tips for maintaining the balance in life that can lead to happiness:
• Take control of what you can. “There are plenty of things that happen in life that we have no control over, but the good news is that we do have control over how we view life events. People who have a more optimistic perspective live healthier and longer lives.”
• De-stress your calendar at work and home. “Regularly evaluate your schedule to determine if it is manageable. If it appears to be out of balance, adjust. Reprioritize and remember, you will be at your best if you have balance. Consider having ‘Not to Do’ lists when necessary to establish healthier balance in your ‘To Do’ List. Remind yourself every day, this is your life, not a dress-rehearsal.”
• Reclaim your brain. “Disconnect from smartphones, computers, TV, etc. and engage in the things that nourish your health and wellness as often as possible: mindfulness, spirituality, nature, social involvement (in person), laughter, hobbies, exercise, music, art, dance, reading, volunteering, good health habits … this list is endless!”