Happy is the New Healthy by Dr. Joan Neehall, Ph.D.
In her book, Dr. Neehall encourages all of us to look inward first in order to connect with others. She also explains that happiness is not passive; it's about making things happen without waiting for things to just occur.
Just as Aristotle said that happiness depends upon ourselves, Dr, Neehall thinks that happy people have these traits in common:
1. They view happiness not as an act, but as a habit.
2. They have a great sense of humor as well and find something to laugh about.
3. Happiness can be manufactured, as Lubormirsky also pointed out saying that "40 percent of our happiness comes from how we process situations and events."
4. Happy people develop positive addictions, such as walking, hiking, and running, which promote a sense of accomplishment and foster a general feeling of wellness across all dimensions of life and relationships.
5. They also avoid being perfectionists, or as Dr. Neehall pointed out: "by deliberately choosing one thing to do with mediocrity, you give yourself permission to be less of a perfectionist."
6. Happy people relish life's simple joys, such as going on a lovely walk, sipping a cup of coffee, and sharing pictures with a friend.
7. They focus on reducing distractions and confronting life's challenges.
8. Happy people embrace failures and even brag about them, which probably explains why we feel more attracted to friends who practice more humility and are self-deprecating.
9. They don't always compare themselves to others.
10. Happy people live their lives with a deep sense of gratitude.
11. They make self-care and sleep a priority.
12. Happy people connect to others and live fulfilling and meaningful lives.
13. They limit nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol.
14. They maintain a nutritious diet.
15. Happy people avoid negative self-talk, as they understand that feeling a certain way about something doesn't mean it's true.
When being too positive is a negative
"Pushing ourselves to be overly optimistic can also distract us from directly addressing the causes of our discontentment." - Dr. Joan Neehall, Ph.D.
Being too positive can negatively impact our lives by repressing tough emotions and looking for distractions, instead of confronting the negative emotions. Additionally, when we don't meet the expectations of being happy all the time, unhappiness ensues, which is why psychologist Dr. Iris Mauss said that the more value we put on maintaining an optimistic mindset, the less happy we are.
The solution to excessive positivity, according to Dr. Neehall is to find a state of emotional balance where we make ourselves present and available to deal with sadness, anxiety, and anger the same way we experience positive emotions.
After reading this well-written book twice and underlining my favorite quotes, I was honored to delve deeper into the science of happiness during a recent interview published on Seeds of Sunshine podcast on Aug. 3, 2022.
Ultimately, happiness has to do a lot with how we react to trouble. Thus, practicing more patience, gratitude, and equanimity will improve our connections to others and bring us more joy.
Disclaimer: Seeds of Sunshine is Carmen Micsa's multigenerational podcast that she started together with her daughter.