How to develop happiness skills by Karen Little


Small yellow flowers on a red background

Read or listen to this article about how anyone can develop skills to promote happiness:


The skill of being happy can be learned, like skills in any profession or sport, and with practice, those skills get better.


When you feel happy, your face and body automatically expresses it through "nonverbal communications."


Your gestalt, which refers to the totality of your being, is based on a system of interconnected reactions. Each action drives another action, like a lever that, when pulled, results in one type of behavior, and when retracted, another.


Smiles and laughter, for example, communicate happiness, but frowns trigger anger. You cannot switch those behaviors to mean the opposite because your body won't let you. Your nonverbal, autonomic nervous system is in charge!


You can very purposefully change your outlook by understanding how your body responds to information, then practicing what you learned. Fortunately, this topic has been studied extensively, providing a lot of information about what you can actively do to trigger happiness as well as other states of mind.


Here are six strategies you can use to achieve happiness. I'll cover more in my next article:


  1. Walk your talk: List and describe what makes you happy, including experiences, objects, and other people. Like memorizing music scales, happiness can be learned by following detail and repetition. After listing what makes you happy, repeat doing those things. Practicing stimulates your autonomic nervous system, which call up feelings without much prompting.

  2. Focus your thoughts: Hypnotists succeed by guiding you to focus on your thoughts to the exclusion of intruding thoughts. You can do this yourself by repeatedly reading or listening to selected information. For this reason, repeated sets of objectives are often read or sung during the course of religious services to help strengthen group commitment.

  3. Focus your day in terms of happiness: Use words similar to "I love this!" or "I think this is beautiful." By observing details about your likes and loves, you become a "subject matter expert" about maintaining your own joy. By making this a daily habit, you'll start feeling the return of love from people, pets, and even nature itself. Why? One reason is that your autonomic, nonverbal communications demonstrates that you are pleasant to be around.

  4. Express liking and loving: One of the reason pets lift their owners' mood is because pet owners talk to them in terms of love. "How's my little Fido! He's such a good boy, yes he is!" The more we express love toward others, including people, animals, things in nature, and art, the more our bodies respond with happy gestures and feelings.

  5. Silently express liking and loving while online: While you might be considered odd if you typed "I love you" to a complete stranger, habitually forming loving thoughts towards others, even when typing, effects your overall outlook and the way you express yourself. Regarding everyone as friends in thought and vocabulary is a good skill to have, especially if you actively want to make new friends.

  6. Predict the best: One third of a famous biblical saying is "seek and you will find." It's true! Become an expert on what makes you happy and seek more of it. The likelihood of your finding those things will be high!

There are many more skills that can trigger your autonomic nervous system to guide you to happiness. Conversely, the opposite of any of those can drive you to anger and depression, something many of us want to avoid.


My next article will discuss why developing happiness skills can help you become a better problem solver, plus provide tips on how happiness can help solve them.


CAUTION: Side affects from drugs, even commonly prescribed medications, can cause neurological impairment, suppressing movement and promoting sluggishness. The advice given in this article will help lift your spirits, but cannot override the side effects of medications, which might include depression. If you are taking medications, tell your doctor whether or not you can tolerate the side effects. Your doctor won't know unless you mention it.


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Written by Karen Little of Sketch-Views